What Should I do if I'm denied at an disability hearing?

What Should I do if I'm denied at an disability hearing?

Subject: Disability Hearing

Question: What do I do if I am denied at my ALJ disability hearing?

If your claim is denied at the hearing level you have two choices. You can file an "Appeals Council Review" appeal to have the administrative law judge's disability hearing decision reviewed for errors. Or you can start a new disability claim.

If you have a disability representative or disability lawyer representing your case, they should be able to advise you of the correct choice. If you choose the appeals council review, you will have to wait until they make a decision before filing a new disability claim. And, most of these appeals result in no change to the ALJ's decision.

While it is possible they may review the judge's decision and issue an approval, very often they will choose not to review the decision, which is basically a denial. And if they do review it, the outcome may only be a remanded case. Meaning you will have a second disability hearing. Probably with the same ALJ, or administrative law judge.

Note: if your hearing denial occurred after the date you were last insured for disability, you may want to file an appeal with the appeals council, as it may be your last chance to be approved for Social Security Disability. You may still be eligible for SSI disability provided you are able to meet the income and resource limits of this need based disability program.

What do you do if the appeals council denies you? If your Appeals Council appeal is denied, you can file a case in Federal Court or file a new disability claim.

If you are not past your date last insured, you may wish to forgo the Appeals Council Review in favor of filing a new claim. If you choose to forgo the appeal, your new disability claim will begin with a date of onset that is one day after your disability hearing decision date. Social Security cannot establish your disability any earlier because the judge has already determined that you were not disabled through the date of your disability hearing.

Again, if you have the services of a disability lawyer or representative, discuss it with them and see which path they feel would be best.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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