How Many Appeal Levels Are There
ANSWER: There are three levels of appeal. They are:
1. Hearing By An Administrative Law Judge
If you disagree with the initial decision, you may ask for a hearing on the "disability"
issues of your claim, such as whether you are disabled, when your disability began or
whether it has ended. An administrative law judge who had no part in the first decision
about your case will conduct the hearing.
The hearing is usually held within 75 miles of your home. The administrative law judge
will notify you of the time and place of the hearing.
You and your representative, if you have one, may come to the hearing and explain your
case in person. You may look at the information in your file and give new information.
The administrative law judge will question you and any witnesses at the hearing. You or
your representative also may question the witnesses.
It is usually to your advantage to attend the hearing. If you do not wish to do so, you
must tell the SSA in writing that you do not want to attend. Unless the administrative law
judge believes your presence is needed to decide the case, he or she will make a decision
based on all the information in your case, including any new information given.
After the hearing, the SSA will send you a letter and a copy of the administrative law
2. Appeals Council
If you disagree with the hearing decision, you may ask for a review by Social Security's
The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but it may deny a request if it
believes the hearing decision was correct. If the Appeals Council decides to review your
case, it will either decide your case itself or return it to an administrative law judge
for further review. You will receive a copy of the Appeals Council's decision or order
sending it back to an administrative law judge.
3. Federal Court Review
If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision or if the Appeals Council decides not
to review your case, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.