If you have gone to the trouble of filing your claim for Social Security disability benefits and appealed to the hearing level with an administrative law judge, you might feel pretty confident about your chances. However, many cases are still denied at the hearing level, even if you have retained San Diego disability attorneys to help your case. There are still possibilities for appeal, though.
The Next Level: The Appeals Council
If your claim is denied, you may ask for a review of your case by the Social Security in Appeals Council, which is located in Virginia. If the Appeals Council decides to hear your case, they have the options of affirming the judge’s decision, modifying it, reversing it, or remanding it for a new hearing. The Appeals Council might simply decline to review your case, which means that the decision of the administrative law judge at the hearing becomes the final decision of the Social Security Commissioner, subject to further court review. There are also some instances where the Appeals Council has decided to review the decisions of administrative law judges, either favorable or unfavorable, on their own volition.
If you want to submit your case to the Appeals Council, you may submit new evidence, so long as it applies to the time before the ALJ’s decision. The Appeals Council almost always conducts a review of the record, without further input or testimony; although there is a law that permits the claimant to petition to give further testimony to the Council, this is almost never granted to claimants.
The Last Level: Federal Court
If the Appeals Council denies your claim or decides against your case, your next option (if you prefer) is to file a civil action in U.S. District Court, depending on the district where you live, with the help of your San Diego disability attorneys. This suit will name the Social Security Commissioner as the defendant. The court might affirm, modify, or reverse the decision, and might or might not choose to remand the case for a rehearing.
If you are filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits, you would benefit from the help of experienced San Diego disability attorneys. Call Aline Gaba and George Heppner at the San Diego Disability Law Group.