Federal Court Review Process
If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision, or if the Appeals Council decides not to review your case, you can file a civil suit in a Federal district court. This is the last level of the appeals process.
The civil action is filed in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which you live or where you have your principal place of business. If you do not live within a judicial district or if you do not have your principal place of business within a judicial district, the civil action must be filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. There is a fee for filing a civil action in Federal court.
As explained in detail in the notice you receive from the Appeals Council, if you file a civil action, you must send us copies of the complaint you filed and of the summons issued by the court. These copies must be sent by certified or registered mail to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the General Counsel that handles the area where the complaint is filed. For information on the office associated with your area, see Program Operations Manual System GN 03106.020 Service of Process.
Improve Your Chances Of Winning An Appeal
A Social Security disability federal court appeal takes time and money, but it may be your only choice when you have exhausted all other methods of challenging an adverse determination. You can improve your chance of success during the appeal process by speaking with a Social Security disability lawyer at Scully Disability Law.
We know the federal laws and regulations and the type of evidence needed to support a claim for benefits under SSI and SSDI. Our lawyers also have the experience and skill to present evidence and supporting arguments compellingly to enhance your chance of a successful outcome.
Requesting Reconsideration Of The Initial Determination
A request for reconsideration results in your case being reviewed by claims examiners and medical consultants who were not involved in making the determination that you are appealing. Reconsideration must be requested in writing within 60 days of the date of the notice that Social Security sent to you containing information about its initial determination.
If you currently receive benefits, your SSI lawyer will submit the request for reconsideration within 10 days from the date you receive the notice. Doing so will allow your benefits to continue at their current level without interruption until the reconsideration takes place.
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What Are The Steps For A Social Security Disability Appeal
You have four chances to win a Social Security disability appeal. When you file an SSI or SSDI application, your application goes through an initial determination. If the SSA approves your disability application, it will notify you of the amount of your monthly benefits and whether you qualify for back pay.
If the SSA denies your disability application, it will notify you that you are not eligible for disability benefits. The denial letter should explain why the SSA denied your disability benefits. It should also notify you of the deadline for filing an appeal of the decision.
There are four steps in the appeals process for Social Security disability:
- Review by Appeals Council
- Filing a Lawsuit in Federal Court
Each step in the Social Security disability appeals process becomes more complicated and challenging. There are strict deadlines and requirements for each different appeal. A mistake could result in starting from the beginning with a new application for Social Security disability benefits.
Many individuals hire a disability lawyer to help with their appeals. The SSA is a huge government agency with trained lawyers, judges, and agents. You need someone on your side with the knowledge, experience, and resources who can fight for your disability benefits.
Should I Appeal My Case To Federal Court
The thought of taking your case to federal court can seem overwhelming, especially to those who have not had much experience in a courtroom. However, being brave and moving your appeal forward to the federal court stage can be extremely beneficial for claimants. Of all the levels of the SSD appeals process, review in federal court is by far the most successful stage for claimants as over 81 percent of people are approved for disability benefits in federal court.
Keep in mind, however, two important things. First, the federal court stage of appeals may cost you money, as there are filing fees with the court system to file a civil suit. Second, the federal appeals process can be lengthy as civil suits take time and federal judges have very heavy workloads. As a result, it can take up to a year or more to receive a decision regarding your appeal.
We offer a free, initial consultation to evaluate your disability claim. Call us at 800-419-7606 to schedule a consultation.
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How Long Will It Take To Receive A Decision
After the hearing, it can take up to two years before the federal district court gives you an answer. This is due to the fact that federal district court judges have intense work schedules and are constantly busy. If you are approved, you will receive a large one-time lump sum check for the time you waited to be approved and will begin receiving your monthly benefit checks as well. If denied, your last option is to file an appeal with the federal circuit courts. This is very expensive and not in your favor.
Federal District Court Appeal
Your last option is attempting to get your case in front of a federal district court judge, but the process can be expensive and time-consuming.
Youll be looking for errors in the ALJs conduct of your hearing, or errors in judgment. Few ALJs decisions get reversed outright, but district court judges remand, or send back for reconsideration, roughly half the disability cases they hear.
Youre a lot less likely to succeed in federal court, Grossman says. Most of the time youre barking up the wrong tree.
Its useful then, too, to have an expert an experienced warrior such as Grossman willing to tell you the hard truth.
About The Author
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Is There More To The Social Security Disability Appeal Process
If you dont win your hearing with the administrative law judge, you still have options. First, most of the time you can file a new application. There are some limits to filing a new application, so dont do it until you consult with an attorney. Learn more about why the SSA may be denying your case here.
Second, you can appeal the ALJs decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council does not often grant cases or overturn a judges decision. However, it is possible to obtain a remand of your case. Read here more information about your chances at the Appeals Council.
Third, if the Appeals Council denies review of your case, then you can appeal your case to the Federal Court. You can learn more about Federal Court review here.
Finally, what do you do if the claimant dies while waiting for benefits? Unfortunately, this does happen. If you are a family member of the claimant, you can continue to pursue SSD benefits. You may want to do this if the claimant has children or you are the claimants spouse. Benefits are payable to surviving members of the family. However, there are specific things you need to do. Learn more about how to pursue disability benefits if the claimant dies.
Plan For Compassionate And Responsive Service
Eliminating the hearings backlog and reducing the wait time to 270 days remains one of our agencys most critical priorities. We continue to make sustained progress towards this goal. Over the last three years, Congress has provided $290 million in special funding dedicated to reduce the hearings backlog. Through this extraordinary support, we accelerated our plan to eliminate the hearings backlog and reduce the average wait time to 270 days by the end of fiscal year 2021, one year earlier than projected in previous plans. Our progress stems from implementing improvements to the hearings business process, modernizing our information technology infrastructure, implementing important policy changes, and rallying our workforce to improve our ability to serve the public.
The 2018-2019 CARES Plan Update provides the latest information on continuing activities designed to reduce wait times and eliminate the hearings backlog. Since 2016, we hired close to 600 administrative law judges , and in FY 2018, we hired over 500 decision writers and over 170 other support staff in the hearings operation.
We have reduced the number of pending hearing requests each consecutive month since January 2017. In early March 2018, hearings pending dropped below 1 million for the first time since October 2014. As of March 2019, approximately 720,000 people were waiting for a hearing decision.
The CARES Plan remains a living document and will be modified and updated as appropriate.
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What To Expect During A Social Security Disability Hearing In Federal Court
For Social Security disability claimants deep in the appeals process, a Social Security Disability Hearing in federal court is the last stop on the road to obtaining disability benefits. After a claimant is either denied review or denied benefits by the Appeals Council, the claimant may appeal further by filing a civil suit in federal court to be heard before a U.S. District Court judge. At this stage, its important to know what outcomes are possible in terms of the payment of benefits and what steps youll need to take next. Today Ill share some helpful information about what it takes to get to the federal level, and what to expect thereafter. When you get to that level, there are three possible outcomes in general: 1) you lose the case, 2) you win with a remandment, or 3) the court orders the payment of benefits. Of all three outcomes, the last is the rarest. To learn more, watch this short video.
Most Initial Disability Applications Are Denied
Over 70% of initial Social Security Disability applications are denied. This doesnt mean that 70% of disability applicants dont deserve benefits. Unless you have a very clear-cut case, Social Security will likely deny your claim.
One reason your application may have been denied is that the Social Security Administration didnt have enough information to award you benefits.
This can happen from a lack of medical records. On the initial application, you are asked to provide a list of medical providers and their contact information so the SSA can track down your medical records. If you dont give detailed information about these providers, then the SSA cant get a complete picture of how your disability affects you.
One thing thats important for the SSA to see is that youre actively getting treatment for your health conditions. If youre not actively treating your disability, then the SSA may believe your disability isnt as bad as it actually is. They may deny your claim because you are not seeing a doctor on a regular basis.
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Federal District Court Disability Claim: Last Stop Or End Of The Line For Your Disability Case
Securing social security disability benefits in Texas can feel like running a gauntlet, at a time in most disabled Texans lives where they have minimal energy for the task. The last step in social security disability appeals is the US Federal Court. A disability claimant has the right to file in Federal District Court within 60 days of receiving a denial from the Appeals Council. Claimants have typically waited up to a year at the Appeals Council for a decision. Claimants considering appeal to the Federal Court, therefore, have been waiting for several years, and are often at the end of their rope. Deciding whether to file in Federal Court is an importance and difficult decision for disabled Texans. Most recent statistics show that claimants nationally take only about 15% of appealable Appeals Council decisions to the federal courts.
The federal court can take one of three actions on a disability claim:
So what are my Chances in Federal Court?
Other Factors to Consider
The First Paper Review: A Reconsideration
After your claim is rejected, the first step in the post-rejection process is that the Social Security Administration makes you look through a paper review of their decision. This review is known as a reconsideration and takes place at the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
At this stage of the post-rejection process, the chances of securing an appeal on reconsideration are very small, at about 13%. Very rarely does DDS take a look at a recently denied claim and reverse the decision. There would have to be something extremely significant to happen between your rejection and the reconsideration process. So when it comes to being at this level, dont count on winning on appeal.
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Hearing With An Administrative Law Judge
An adverse determination on a request for reconsideration may be appealed by submitting a written request within 60 days for a hearing conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. Your SSD lawyer will review with you how hearings are conducted, but the choices are to allow the ALJ to make a decision on your claim based solely on the evidence contained in the file or appear at a hearing to offer evidence in support of your claim.
Hearings are conducted in person, over the phone, or by video teleconferencing. Your SSDI lawyer submits written evidence and statements in support of your claim in advance of the hearing date. The judge will consider the written evidence and the testimony of witnesses from the hearing in deciding on your appeal. If the decision does not go in your favor, your lawyer may recommend appealing it to the Appeals Council.
The Federal Appeals Court Process
When your initial benefits application is denied, Social Security Administration guidelines allow you to file an appeal. Before your appeal reaches the federal appeals court process, it must go through three other appeals phases:
- Appeals Council
When your case reaches the federal court phase of the appeals process, it means you have made all other available appeals without being awarded benefits. Reaching this phase is rare in actuality, it is a civil court case. When we represent you in court, we take the following steps:
- We review your previously submitted medical and financial evidence
- We ensure your paperwork and court filings are in the proper form
- We ensure your federal appeal is filed within the allotted 60 days
At the conclusion of your federal appeal, one of three outcomes will follow:
- Your case may be sent back, which is one appeals step for further review by the Appeals Council.
- You may be awarded SSD benefits.
- Your case may be dismissed.
Our goal is to ensure your case has the supportive medical evidence required for federal court approval.
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Representing Disability Benefit Applicants At Every Stage
If you are applying for Social Security disability and SSI benefits, you will want an attorney who will try to get you benefits as quickly as possible but who is also prepared to represent you throughout the process for as long as it takes to make sure you obtain the benefits you deserve.
At The Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC, we are fully prepared to appeal our clients cases in federal court if necessary. In fact, we file more SSD appeals in federal district court than any other law firm in Western New York. To set up a free consultation, contact us today.
About Social Security Disability Denial
If youve suffered a catastrophic accident, or endured a harrowing diagnosis, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Tread carefully. The path to monthly checks from Washington is winding and pitted with legal landmines. If you think you can navigate it without a lawyer, think again.
The way I look at it, says Ed Grossman, a Chicago-based Social Security Disability lawyer whos been winning appeals for clients for 35 years, its a mistake to go it alone.
Slightly more than two million American workers filed for disability status in 2018, which may sound like a lot, but actually it represents the eighth consecutive year filings fell . Nonetheless, SSDI payments to 10 million Americans top $11 billion per month.
A combination of a reviving economy fueling traditional, gig, and work-from-home opportunities, coupled with tough new measures designed to root out fraud the feds want to monitor beneficiaries social media posts for signs of non-disabled activity has encouraged disabled workers to seek jobs. In the summer of 2019, unemployment among the disabled is at a historic low, hovering at 8%.
What has not changed, however, is how tough it is for applicants to get their claims approved. Such a large majority of initial applications is rejected, its almost like the Social Security Administration uses the first round to weed out the dodgy, the gamblers, and the unserious.
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Will I Need An Attorney Or Lawyer
The appeals process for the federal district courts is legally complicated and can be quite frustrating. The federal judges who review cases look for legal mistakes made by ALJs and these mistakes need to be listed within the briefs. Without representation, you would have to write the briefs yourself and point out how your ALJ made a legal error while making his or her decision. This makes having a disability attorney almost necessary. A qualified disability attorney will file your civil complaint, prepare your briefs, and will engage in oral argument if required. If you want to have a fighting chance for a positive outcome, it is highly recommend you find a disability attorney before sending your request for federal review.