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Understanding how the Social Security appeals process works

Although many St. Louis, Missouri, natives receive Social Security Disability benefits, many also have been denied benefits. The Social Security Administration has clear guidelines about how a person can appeal the decision to deny benefits.

A request for a review of the Social Security Administration's decision must be filed within 60 days of receiving a denial letter. The guidelines for the appeal process are attached to the initial letter that the Social Security Administration sends to a claimant. There are four opportunities for appeal:

  • Reconsideration - As a first step, the Social Security Administration will arrange for a review of its decision by someone who was not part of the first decision. It is not mandatory for the prospective recipient to be present. However, if an appellant is requesting review of a decision stating that he or she is ineligible for benefits due to an improved medical condition, it is necessary for him or her to be present to explain why he or she disagrees with the decision.
  • Hearing - If an appellant is not in agreement with the reconsideration results, he or she may ask for a hearing that takes place in front of an administrative law judge who was not part of the original decision or the reconsideration decision. An appellant has the opportunity to present evidence that would support his or her claims and also can call witnesses and experts to support the appeal. After the hearing, the judge makes a decision, which is mailed to the applicant.
  • Appeals Council - In case an applicant does not agree with the results of the hearing, he or she may seek further review from the Appeals Council. The council looks at all evidence, but may or may not grant the relief requested. If the council acknowledges the appeal, it may either ask the administrative judge to review the decision again or simply review the administrative judge's decision himself or herself. The outcome of the review is communicated to the applicant by mail, along with the reason for acceptance or rejection.
  • Federal Court - If the applicant disagrees with the finding of the Appeals Council or if the council refuses to review an applicant's case, he or she may seek legal recourse by filing a lawsuit in civil court. The process for doing so is explained in the same letter that communicates the Appeals Council's decision.

Source: SSA.gov, "The Appeals Process," accessed on Oct. 15, 2014

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
225 South Meramec Avenue, Suite 426
St. Louis, MO 63105

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Phone: 314-925-0242
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