The Social Security Disability Appeals Council

If your application for Social Security disability and Request for Reconsideration have been denied and you’ve received an unfavorable ruling from the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the Appeals Council is the last step before federal court.

Requesting Appeals Council Review

A request for Appeals Council review must be submitted in writing within 60 days after you receive the ALJ’s decision. You can request review by completing this form on the Social Security Administration’s website, or we can help you make the request. Submitting the form to begin the process is simple, but making the most of this opportunity for review requires more.

You may submit additional information when you request review, so it is to your benefit to get knowledgeable guidance as early as possible in the process. Assembling the right documentation and presenting it effectively can mean the difference between approval and denial. That’s why it’s to your advantage to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Social Security disability advocate before taking this step.

What Happens after I Request Review?

While the Appeals Council considers every request it receives, it does not actually conduct a review of every case. Sometimes, the Appeals Council determines that the ALJ’s decision was correct without conducting a full review and rejects the request.

When the Appeals Council determines that review is warranted, one of two things may happen:

  • The Appeals Council may conduct a review itself and enter a decision on the basis of that review; or
  • The Appeals Council may return the case to the ALJ for further consideration

The Appeals Council or ALJ—whichever makes the determination—will send you a letter explaining the outcome of the review. If the case has been decided in your favor, that letter will tell you when you can expect to start receiving benefits and in what amount.

If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it may take quite a while to receive a determination. The Appeals Council receives and processes about 150,000 requests each year, with an average processing time of just over one year.

What If the Appeals Council Denies My Request?

If the Appeals Council declines to review your case, or if your case is reviewed and you receive a negative determination, you still have options. The next step is to file a lawsuit in federal district court.

Get the Help You Need During and After the Appeals Council Process

You don’t have to fight this battle on your own. Whether you’re just preparing to send your request for Appeals Council review, have a hearing scheduled, or have received a denial from the Appeals Council, we can help. Just schedule a free consultation today.