How many disability appeals do you get in California?

Nationally, the Social Security Disability claims process has three commonly used levels of appeal. If your disability claim in California has been denied at the initial level, also known as the application level, you may appeal your claim by asking for what is known as a reconsideration, or, more accurately, a request for reconsideration.

Reconsiderations are sent back to the state disability-processing agency (which is responsible for rendering disability claim determinations for the Social Security Administration) for what basically amounts to another review of the initial decision. The differences between what happens at the application level and the reconsideration level are neglible at best.

The most substantial difference is simply that the claim is assigned to a different disability examiner at the state agency. That agency is known as DDS, or disability determination services.

Not surprisingly, very few initial disability decisions are overturned at the reconsideration level. In fact, unless a clear error on the part of the first examiner (who made the decision on the initial claim) is discovered, or significant new evidence comes to light, a reconsideration denial is practically guaranteed.

Nationally, approximately 85 percent of reconsideration appeals are denied. In California, that statistic is 88 percent. So, typically, a claimant will have to file for the second level of appeal.

The second level in the Social Security Disability and SSI appeal process is a hearing before an ALJ, or administrative law judge. When you request this appeal, you are formally completing a "request for hearing before an administrative law judge".

To learn more about the hearing level, you may wish to visit this page: Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing

There are other levels of appeal, which include the Appeals Council Review, and Federal Court appeal. Most disability applicants rarely appeal beyond the administrative law judge hearing, though, and if you received a disability denial at a hearing conducted by a judge, you may wish to file a new initial claim for SSD or SSI. That is, unless your disability attorney feels it would be more practical to send an appeal to the appeals council (the appeals council reviews the decisions that are made by disability judges).

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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