A majority of disability claims filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) come back denied. If you had a brain injury claim denied by the SSA, you have the right to appeal the decision.
There are four steps in the disability claim appeal process: Reconsideration, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, a review by the Appeals Council, and a hearing in front of a federal district court judge.
Start the Appeals Process with Reconsideration
The term “do over” is the best way to explain reconsideration. As the first step in the appeal process, reconsideration means you file an appeal with the SSA. The first thing to do is to find out how long you have to file for reconsideration.
Then, you want to improve the chances of getting your claim for a brain injury approved by submitting additional medical documentation. Although reconsideration goes back to the SSA, you can expect a different examiner to review your claim.
Many disability applicants file a new claim with the SSA instead of taking their denied claim to the appeals process. If you start a second disability claim, you can expect the same result you experienced with the first claim. After you file an appeal for reconsideration, the SSA issues a new ruling.
How an ALJ Hearing Works
An ALJ hearing works differently than reconsideration. You can request the hearing by filing the proper paperwork online, as well as write a letter to the SSA asking for help to file for an ALJ hearing.
The biggest difference between reconsideration and an ALJ hearing is that you can testify at an ALJ hearing. Hearing your side of the case can boost your chances of the ALJ ruling in your favor. Consult with a Social Security attorney to ensure you follow all the guidelines required to schedule an ALJ hearing.
Asking for a Review by the Appeals Council
As a branch operating within the SSA, the Appeals Council is there to review the ALJ’s decision to deny your disability claim. Every order of business during this step happens in written form. You do not have the opportunity to argue your case in front of the council.
Completing Form HA-520, which is the Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order, starts the Appeal Council review process. After you file Form HA-520. You should receive a summons that you submit to the SSA. The Office of General Council (OGC) handles the Appeals Council phase of the disability appeals process.
Last Chance: File an Appeal in a Federal District Court
The last step in the disability appeals process is to take your case to the correct federal district court. The judge either remands your claim by sending it back to the ALJ who heard your claim or the judge outright denies your claim.
Remanded claims that go back to the original ALJ typically receive approval because the federal district court judge mentions factors and issues that the ALJ did not consider during the first hearing. If a federal district judge denies your claim, you can file an appeal with the Federal Circuit Court, but the process is much more complex and expensive.
Get Help with Your Disability Case
Working with a Social Security lawyer-specially one who is familiar with the disability claim appeal process-gives you a much better chance of having your claim approved. Most Social Security attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis to help clients navigate the rough financial waters.