If you have an illness or injury that affects your ability to work and have accumulated enough work credits, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Receiving the benefits you deserve, though, may take a bit of work. After all, the Social Security Administration denies far more than half of initial applications for benefits.
Receiving an SSDI benefits denial is usually not the end of the road. If you disagree with the denial, you may go through the appeals process. A review by the SSA Appeals Council is one possible stage of an SSDI benefits appeal.
Stages of an SSDI benefits appeal
If you object to the SSA’s denial of your SSDI benefits, you can appeal the decision through four hierarchical stages:
- Request for reconsideration
- Review by an administrative law judge
- Appeal to the SSA Appeals Council
- Appeal to federal court
The SSA Appeals Council
Located in Falls Church, Virginia, the SSA Appeals Council reviews the decisions of administrative law judges. The Appeals Council examines every case individuals file, although its judges do not have to consider your appeal.
Essentially, the Appeals Council decides if the administrative law judge who heard your case made some factual or legal error. While the Appeals Council has the authority to approve your request for SSDI benefits outright, that does not usually happen.
If the Appeals Council agrees with you, its judges are likely to send your case back to an administrative law judge for additional processing. Still, if you believe the administrative law judge in your case made a mistake, asking the Appeals Council to hear the matter probably makes sense.