Disability attorney shaking hands with clientDisability attorney shaking hands with client

Different Stages in the Disability Appeals Process

If your application for Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits got denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you might want to file an appeal. Since the vast majority of applications for disability benefits get denied the first time, most people who end up getting the benefits they deserve have to go through at least one stage of the appeals process.

The good news is that your benefits can be retroactive if your application got denied and you win on appeal. The rules for appeals are strict and unforgiving, so you might want to work with a Michigan SSDI attorney to go after your benefits. Let’s explore the four different stages in the disability appeals process.

First Level of Appeal – Reconsideration

You have 60 days (plus 5 days mailing) from the date of the notice of the adverse decision on your application to file a request for reconsideration. The person who takes a fresh look at your disability claim will not be someone who was involved in the initial denial.

You can file additional evidence and request an appeal online if your claim got denied for a medical reason. If the SSA denied your disability benefits application for a non-medical reason, like your income or assets, you can request an online appeal of the non-medical determination letter that denied your application for benefits.

Second Level of Appeal – Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

You have 60 days (plus 5 days mailing) from the date of the notice of the adverse decision on your reconsideration to file a request for a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If you are not happy with the results of the reconsideration, you can ask an administrative law judge (ALJ) to take a look at your file and hold a hearing.

Sometimes, the hearings are in-person. Usually, the in-person hearings take place within 75 miles of where you live. Under some circumstances, the applicant can request and receive a video hearing. Since many people have experienced Zoom and other online video conferencing tools during the pandemic, they are less uncomfortable with this option and might find it more convenient.

Third Level of Appeal – Review by the Appeals Council

You have 60 days, typically though sometimes less (plus 5 days mailing) from the date of the notice of the adverse decision on your hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to file a request for a review by the Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council looks at your request for review and your file and decides that the decision of the ALJ complied with the applicable laws and regulations, they might deny your request for a formal review.

If the Appeals Council grants you a review, they can either send it to an ALJ to review it more, or they can handle the review themselves. If they send your file to an ALJ and you are not happy with the decision of the ALJ, you can ask the Appeals Council to review it themselves.

Fourth Level of Appeal – Federal Court Review

The fourth level of appeal of an adverse decision on your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is to file a civil lawsuit in federal court. You typically have 60 days (plus 5 days for mailing) from the date of the notice of the adverse decision by the Appeals Council to file your case in federal court. However, depending on the facts of your case, and procedural history, your timeline may be different. it is important to contact an experienced Michigan Social Security Disability attorney right away to know your rights and be mindful of any appeal deadline you may have. 

We understand that this four-stage appeals process can be intimidating and overwhelming. You do not have to go through this experience by yourself. A Michigan SSDI attorney can help you at any stage of your appeal. For legal assistance get in touch with our office today, we offer a free consultation.