Applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance are routinely denied when they initially apply for disability benefits. After a lengthy wait, many are approved after a hearing with an administrative law judge. Not all applicants are approved, however. If your disability application was denied by an administrative law judge, you may consider appealing to the Social Security Appeals Council.
What the Appeals Council does
The appeals council considers requests for review of hearing decisions made by administrative law judges. According to the Social Security Administration, the council examines all requests for review, but does not grant every request. If the Appeals Council decides it will review your case, it could handle the review itself or return it to another administrative law judge. The council could look at any issues the previous administrative law judge decided – even issues that were decided in your favor.
Why the Appeals Council was created
The Appeals Council was created in 1940 to oversee hearings and appeals and help create consistency in decisions about benefits. A third purpose was to ensure that the agency’s records were adequate for court cases.
Originally, it was a three member body. As time passed, Social Security’s programs became more complex and the council began receiving an increased number of requests. The Appeals Council now has about 68 administrative appeals judges, 42 appeals officers and several hundred staff. It has offices in Virginia and Maryland.
If you believe your disability application could benefit from Appeals Council review, an experienced attorney can help you with the request process. You generally have 60 days from the date of your hearing decision to request a review.
Source: For more information, read our recent article about appealing a disability benefits decision.