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If a Social Security Disability ALJ decision is a denial, is that the end?
This question was recently asked online so I thought I'd address it. For all claimants who file for disability, there is typically a 30 percent chance of being approved at the disability application level.
For the remaining seventy percent who are not approved for disability and who decide to file a request for reconsideration (the first appeal in the social security disability and SSI disability evaluation process), approximately 15 percent will be approved and 85 percent will bene denied. Of those individuals who decide to file the next appeal, roughly half will be approved at a disability hearing, an occurrence made more likely, of course, when representation is involved at the hearing level.
For most claimants who are denied at the first step in the process (the intial claim, or application), the hearing before an ALJ, or administrative law judge will represent their best possible chance of being approved. However, the fact remains that a large percentage of claims do get denied at hearings (making the need for thorough preparation for a hearing absolutely vital). So, the question becomes "Is the hearing the end?". Not at all. Here are possible courses of action for disability claimants who get denied at a disability hearing.
1. A claimant can file the next appeal, or have their attorney do this for them. Currently, the next appeal in the system is a request for review of the administrative law judge's decision. I say "currently" because, like the request for reconsideration, this appeal level frequently comes up for consideration of eliminiation. BTW, this particular appeal is commonly referred to as an appeals council review, since it is the appeals council in falls church, Virginia that actually reviews ALJ hearing decisions.
2. Appealing a judge's denial is always an option. However, if you are represented at a disability hearing and are denied by a judge, your attorney or non-attorney advocate may choose to advise you to send in an appeals council review request...or not. It will really depend on the merits of the case and the decision that was reached by the ALJ. What happens if you or your attorney decide not to send in an appeal to the appeals council? You can file a new claim and start all over again. Believe it or not, sometimes this is the recommended course of action. However, it is not an appetizing one since going through the entire system a second time may consume many months or perhaps three more years depending on where you live in the country (backlogs vary by state).
Can you file a new claim and also send in a request for review of the judge's decision? You once could and both would be worked on independently, which is why many representatives used to recommend that their clients do exactly this. However, this is no longer the case
You should typically only begin a new disability claim if your case has been denied by a judge---meaning that if you file a new claim while you are still waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, the new claim will not be processed but will simply be merged with the existing file at the hearing office. After all, why would social security bother to process a brand new disability claim when the outcome of the first claim is still undecided.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
How to file for disability in Rhode Island
If I File For Disability Will They Offset My Pension?
Tinnitus may be a disorder of the Brain
Can you lose disability if cancer improves?
SSI Back Pay after being Approved
How many people get approved for disability from Social Security?
What Forms Do You Use to File For Social Security Disability?
Dire Need and Getting a Social Security Disability or SSI Case Speeded Up
Applying for disability with bipolar
How to file for disability in California
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Filing for disability with scoliosis
The SSDI SSI disability application, how to file
Working and getting Disability
Contacting Social Security about the status of your disability claim
How to qualify for disability with depression
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits
Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
What is the status of your social security disability or SSI case
Rules and requirements to apply for disability
Will I qualify for disability?
Apply for disability for any medical condition
Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
If your disability claim is approved or denied
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
How social security evaluates attention deficit
Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
Can you work if you get Disability?
Who qualifies for SSI and how
How to file for disability and where to apply
Conditions that may qualify as disability
Denied on a disability application
Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing