There are four levels to your Social Security disability appeal process. Each has a different acceptance rate. The four appeal processes you could progress to are Reconsideration, an ALJ Hearing, the Appeals Council, and Federal Court.
In the Reconsideration stage, you can simply go online and ask the SSA to review your claim a second time. This stage is even harder to win than the initial application. Just 15% of claimants are approved during Reconsideration, so it is likely that your case will require a Hearing.
In the Hearing stage,you’ll need to present your case in front of a judge. You’ll be allowed to plea your claim in person, and use medical experts, witness testimony, and legal assistance to help win your claim. You will also need to answer any questions fielded by the judge or vocational expert to confirm your illness is disabling. This is the easiest stage to be approved, as nearly 50% of claimants who present their claim at a hearing are awarded disability benefits.
If you are denied at your Hearing, the appeals process becomes more challenging. At this point, you’ll need to bring the decision to a Social Security Appeals Council, which will review the judge’s ruling on your claim. The Council can either approve or deny your claim itself, or send your claim back to an ALJ for another hearing. Keep in mind that you cannot submit any new medical evidence from here on out.
If you’re denied during the Appeals Council, the final option in your appeal is to file a lawsuit in Federal District Court. You are required to work with an attorney at this stage in the process, and these claims are very hard to win.