Applicant and Caseworker Information: The SSA Appeals Process
If Social Security denied your application for disability benefits, you may request an appeal. Social Security has four appeal levels. This article discusses the Reconsideration and Hearing by Administrative Law Judge levels.
SSA Appeals Process
Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
Review by the Appeals Council
Federal Court Review
When can I appeal?
Who can help with my reconsideration?
What can I expect during reconsideration?
Social Security will review your disability application. A person who did not take part in the first decision will review all records from your original application and any new information you provide. You should continue to attend all of your regular appointments and any exams Social Security schedules for you. When Social Security decides your reconsideration, you and your representative will get a letter explaining the decision. If your reconsideration is approved, Social Security will contact you to start payments. If you do not agree with the decision made on your reconsideration, you can request an Administrative Law Judge hearing.
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
Who evaluates the claim?
Medical Experts (ME) are doctors who review all of the medical records in your application before the hearing. The ALJ will ask the ME questions about your condition(s) at the hearing.
Vocational Experts (VE) are professionals who review the information in your claim and give their opinion on your ability to do past work or other types of work.
Who can help with my hearing?
What can I do before my ALJ hearing?
Hearing Format Election Statement
You can use the Hearing Format Election Statement from NOSSCR to notify Social Security of how you want to appear at your hearing (in-person, Video Teleconference (VTC), telephone, or Online Video Hearing (OVH)). This can be sent in place of SSA's official form that is sent to the applicant and representative at least 75 days before the hearing.
What happens at an ALJ hearing?
- Read about SSA Online Video Hearings.
- Additional information from SSA:
What happens after an ALJ hearing?
Representative and Legal Resources
American Bar Association
National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR)
NOSSCR provides referrals to attorneys and non-attorney representatives in your local area.
Lawyer Referral Service Phone: 800-431-2804
National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR)
NADR provides referrals to attorneys and non-attorney representatives in your local area, which you can access on their Find A Representative webpage.
State or Local Legal Aid
- Legal Services Corporation (LSC) provides information about LSC-funded state or local legal aid agencies, which you can access on their Find Legal Aid webpage.
- Phone: 1-202-295-1500
LawHelp.org helps people find free legal aid programs in their communities
Law School Legal Clinics
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- March, 2023