If the Judge turns you down (called an unfavorable decision), or if the Judge finds you disabled, but at a later date than you contend (a partially favorable decision), you can appeal such a decision to the Appeals Council.
You must file your request for Appeals Council review within sixty (60) days from the date you receive your unfavorable or partially favorable decision. Usually, the Appeals Council will only consider legal challenges to the Judge’s decision; therefore, it is wise to have a lawyer prepare your Appeals Council brief.
The Appeals Council can do the following:
- deny your appeal and affirm the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
- remand (send the case back) to the ALJ with instructions to develop your case record further
- reverse the ALJ’s decision and award benefits
In my experience, the Appeals Council reverses or remands only a small percentage of cases, so the odds are not in your favor. Further, if the Appeals Council does remand the case it will go back to the same judge who denied you in the first place – a policy that makes little sense to me, but that is how it is done.
Does Ginsberg Law Accept Appeals Council Cases?
At Ginsberg Law Offices, I sometimes accept Appeals Council cases from clients who had another lawyer appear with them at the hearing, but I am very selective. If you want my firm (or any other firm) to evaluate your Appeals Council case, do not wait – the earlier I see the case, the better.
I also sometimes refer or send out our appeals to other lawyers who specialize in Appeals Council brief writing. As noted previously, if you are denied at your hearing don’t wait to look into filing an appeal
Can I File a New Claim at the Same Time I Appeal an Unfavorable Decision?
Unfortunately, no. In years past, you could file a new application while appealing an unfavorable hearing decision, but in 2011, Social Security changed its policy and no longer allows this. Social Security ruling 11-1P states in part:
If you want to file a new disability claim under the same title and of the same type as a disability claim pending at any level of administrative review, you will have to choose between pursuing your administrative review rights on the pending disability claim or declining to pursue further administrative review and filing a new application.
I strongly recommend that you discuss your appeal vs. filing a new claim options with an attorney.