Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Can you still Appeal if the Judge denies your Disability Claim?

Disability claims filed with Social Security usually proceed in one of two different ways. Either the claimant is approved for disability benefits after filing a disability application, or the claimant will be denied and will then face the decision of A) giving up on their claim, B) filing a new claim, or C) or filing an appeal.

The first disability appeal is the request for reconsideration, a step that is practically identical to the initial claim (i.e. the disability claim). Most claims that are reviewed at the reconsideration level are denied, just as with the initial claim.

The second appeal is the hearing which is held at a federal hearing office (formerly known as the office of hearings and appeals and now known as the office of disability adjudication and review). Primarily, the disability hearing involves the claimant, a disability attorney, and an administrative law judge. In cases where claimants are represented, the majority of claims are won.

However, claimants who do not have a disability representative are denied at up to a sixty percent rate, and even claimants who have representation are sometimes denied as well (the denial rate for represented claimants is lower, roughly 40 percent).

If you are denied by a disability judge, can you still appeal? Yes, in fact there are two levels of appeal beyond the hearing level. The first level of appeal after the hearing level is conducted at the appeals council. The appeals council is located in Falls Church, Virginia and one of its primary purposes is to evaluate decisions made by administrative law judges. When a case is sent to the appeals council, there are three separate outcomes.

1. The case can be overturned and approved. This rarely happens.

2. The appeals council can respond by stating that the request to review the decision of the administrative law judge has been denied. In other words, the appeals council is notifying the claimant (and/or their attorney) that they will do nothing.

3. The appeals council may send a notice stating that the case will be remanded. When a case is remanded, it is sent back for a second hearing. Unfortunately, this second hearing tends to be with the same disability judge who denied the case in the first place. Despite this fact, however, many remand hearings do result in approvals, particularly if the appeals council has notified the adminstrative law judge that they failed to consider a key piece of medical evidence in the disability cliamant's file.

The next appeal level that exists beyond the disability hearing level is federal district court. Relatively few cases proceed to this appeal level. Also, district court is the only level in the disability appeal system where the claimant's chosen representative must be a disability lawyer versus being a non-attorney claimant's representative (though, oddly enough, a claimant can proceed pro se, meaning unrepresented).

If the judge denies your claim, is it better to appeal or to start over with a new claim? Very often, a claimant's attorney will advise them to do both. This is because cases that are sent to the appeals council can stay there for well over a year and, very often, a claimant will receive an answer on their new disability claim before they receive a decision from the appeals council on their old claim.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Social Security Disability and Going In Front Of A Judge - What Happens?
Do Most People Need To See A Judge To Get Disability Benefits From Social Security?
Can you still Appeal if the Judge denies your Disability Claim?
Is An ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) More Likely To Grant A Claim For Social Security Disability or SSI?
How Long Does It Take To Go Before A Judge For Disability Benefits?
Does The Social Security Judge Use The Same Rules As The Disability Examiner?
How do I see a judge for my social security disability case or SSI Claim?
Do you have to see a judge to get disability benefits?
When do you see a judge for a social security disability or SSI claim?
What Percentage Of Social Security Disability or SSI Cases Does A Judge Deny?
Do you get SSI back benefits from the time you were disabled?
Disability claim at reconsideration appeal level

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 answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria