Appeal: Legal Definition

The legal definition of an appeal is a claim brought before a higher court by a claimant requesting to overturn a decision by a lower court. In criminal law, a person convicted of a crime may appeal with the hopes of having their conviction overturned. In civil law, a person found liable for another party’s damages may appeal with the goal of a higher court finding them not responsible.

Appeals also apply to Social Security law. Someone who applies for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and receives a denial has several opportunities to appeal the decision. Below we will go through the different stages of the Social Security disability appeals process and what each one entails.

What Is a Social Security Disability Appeal

A Social Security disability appeal is an attempt by a person who has been rejected for disability benefits to get the SSA to change its decision. If the SSA denies you disability benefits, you have several opportunities to plead your case and perhaps receive an approval.

In fact, the appeals process has four stages. They are as follows:

Request for Reconsideration

This is the primary stage of the appeals process. It is just like it sounds. You submit a request to the SSA, asking it to reconsider its decision to deny your application. You have the option of presenting additional evidence you think will bolster your claim.

Administrative Law Judge Hearing

If the SSA denies your request for reconsideration, you can ask for an in-person hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You have the opportunity there to plead your case to a judge with ultimate decision-making authority, and you may have a lawyer present. The approval rate at ALJ hearings is higher than the first two stages of the process.

Appeals Council

Following a denial by an ALJ, you can take your claim to the Social Security Appeals Council, which reviews applications rejected by judges and can do one of three things: approve the claim; remand it back to the ALJ for a second look; or deny the claim.

Federal District Court

The final step in the process is to take your claim to the federal district court. Most applicants never avail themselves of this option, as it is expensive and time-consuming. Instead, they start the process over with a brand-new application.

No matter what stage you are at in the process, a Social Security disability lawyer can help you with your appeal.

Call for a Free Case Evaluation With a Social Security Disability Lawyer: 865-566-0800

The Social Security disability lawyers at the Disability Advantage Group can help you apply for and receive disability benefits. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not receive payment until you receive benefits. For a free case evaluation, call us at 865-566-0800 today.