What are the Levels of Appeal in a Social Security Disability Case?

If your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, (for Texas applicants) there are currently four possible levels in the appellate process:

  • The first level of review is called the reconsideration. This is a review of the initial Disability Determination Services (DDS) decision by other Social Security officials.
  • The second level is a de novo hearing before an administrative law judge.  This is a completely new, independent review of what the Social Security office has decided by a judge who hears all the facts in the case, without being bound by the findings or opinions of any prior decisions.
  • The third level is an appeal to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia.
  • The final level is filing a lawsuit in federal court.

In some situations, the appellate process will require little more than filing the appropriate forms for a reconsideration in order to clarify the information you presented in your initial application.  In some cases, new medical evidence which was not available at the time of your initial application may be persuasive.  In other situations, it may be necessary to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. 

A substantial percentage of denials are reversed on appeal. Many Social Security disability claims which are initially denied are allowed during the appeal process. 

In all cases, it is very important to be patient and persistent throughout the process. 

All of the forms are available at your local Social Security office or from the Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov.




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