If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits you must seek an appeal of the decision or you could lose out forever. The Social Security Administration has different rules for what type of appeal you should seek depending on which state you live in because it is experimenting with how to manage appeals.
In most states, after receiving a decision on your initial application you must request what is called reconsideration of the decision. Reconsideration is basically an internal review of the decision the administration made with an opportunity to submit additional evidence.
If you are denied again at the reconsideration level you must ask for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. This is called the hearing stage and it will probably be your only opportunity to give live testimony. In the states that are experimenting with how to manage appeals, you skip the reconsideration stage and go directly to the hearing stage.
If you are denied benefits by an Administrative Law Judge the next step is an appeal of the judge's decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is a part of the Social Security Administration. Generally, you are not allowed to present new evidence at this level. The Appeals Council reviews the Administrative Law Judge's decision to see if any errors were made.
If you are denied by the Appeals Council, you have the opportunity to sue the Social Security Administration in federal district court if the Social Security Administration made an error in denying you benefits. This is a relatively rare step to take and it can be difficult to obtain relief this way.
If you are still denied at this level it is possible to appeal that decision to a federal appellate court and ultimately to the Supreme Court of the United States but this level of appeal is very rarely done.
An attorney can help you meet your deadlines and work your way through the confusion that appealing an unfavorable decision involves. If you have been denied Social Security benefits you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
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