Today's post will conclude our ongoing series discussing the options available to those individuals who have seen their disability benefits suddenly and unjustly terminated via an impersonal letter from the Social Security Administration.
In the previous posts, we explored reconsideration and the hearing, the first two levels of appeal. Now, we'll explore the final two levels of appeal, which include the Appeals Council and federal court.
When exactly does the Appeals Council enter the discussion?
If you disagree with the decision reached by the administrative law judge following your hearing, the next level of appeal is requesting a review by the Social Security Administration's Appeals Council. You will have 60 days to do this.
What will the Appeals Council do?
While the Appeals Council reviews every request for review, there is no guarantee that it will decide to review your case. Indeed, it may agree with the decision reached by the ALJ, meaning it will deny your request and mail you a letter explaining why.
What happens if the Appeals Council does decide to review my case?
If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it will take one of two approaches: it will decide your case on its own, or it will order your case to be sent back to the ALJ for certain action to be taken.
How will I know what the Appeals Council does?
In the event the Appeals Council elects to decide your case on its own and reaches a decision, you will be mailed a copy of this decision. Similarly, if the Appeals Council orders your case to be sent back to the ALJ, you will be mailed a letter explaining this decision along with a copy of the order.
What if I disagree with the decision of the Appeals Council?
If you disagree with the decision reached by the Appeals Council, you will have 60 days to file a federal lawsuit. This is the final stage of review, and may be undertaken if the Appeals Council issues an adverse decision after reviewing your case or declines to review your case.
To learn more about your rights and the SSD appeals process, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.
Source: Social Security Administration, "Your right to question the decision to stop your disability benefits," Accessed Feb. 11, 2015