How Many Times Can You Appeal a Social Security Disability Decision?

Unfortunately, once a lawsuit is filed in a federal district court and a decision is made to affirm Social Security’s denial of your claim, the decision the federal district judge puts forth is usually considered final. Also, if you fail to appeal an unfavorable decision at the lower levels of the Social Security disability appeals process within 60 days, this can be considered a final decision, and you might lose your ability to appeal.

A Female Judge Slamming Her Gavel Down On The Bench

Let’s discuss opportunities for you to appeal your claim within the Social Security disability process, so you can decide what steps you need to take:

First Opportunity to Appeal: Reconsideration

If your initial application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) was denied, you can request that the Social Security Administration (SSA) reconsider your case.

Your Next Opportunity: Administrative Law Judge Hearing

If your claim was denied at the reconsideration stage of the appeals process, you can request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is considered a more formal process where you are allowed to present new evidence and provide witness testimony to bolster your claim.

Another Opportunity: Appeals Council Review

If the Administrative Law Judge still presents you with an unfavorable decision, you can request a review by the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) Appeals Council. It is important to note that the Appeals Council can uphold the judge’s ruling, request another hearing with the ALJ, or even approve benefits. If an unfavorable decision is upheld by the Appeals Council, there is one final stage for an appeal after all avenues have been exhausted.

The Final Stage: Federal Court

Suppose your reconsideration, administrative law judge hearing, and a review by the SSA Appeals Council all result in your claim being denied. In that case, your final option is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. However, if the federal court upholds the unfavorable decision, it is considered final. This decision barres any further review or additional appeals. It is technically possible to appeal to an even higher court, but this is rare.

Tips From An Attorney For Appealing Multiple Unfavorable Decisions

Many times, claims are denied for lack of treatment, including non-compliance with medical or mental health provider recommendations. A claimant must have continuous treatment for their conditions, and have legitimate reasons for not following their providers’ treatment plans.

A claimant should try to remain with treatment providers who have treated their conditions for a longer time. While this may be difficult in today’s world of rampant movement among providers in medical or mental health fields, it is most helpful to go back to a hearing with consistent evidence over many years.

Sometimes, claimants overestimate what they are actually doing throughout a typical day. A claimant must make sure to give a fair assessment of their activities when completing SSA’s requests for documentation and refrain from recording activities or tasks that are merely aspirational in nature. This information should remain fairly consistent as well.

Michael Armstrong Law Can Help You Appeal Your Claim

Our team of dedicated Social Security Disability representatives and advocates have over 33 years of experience helping New Mexico residents receive the benefits they deserve. If you need help appealing an SSI or SSDI claim, please contact our firm—we’re here to partner with you!

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