Does a Disability Attorney have to File my Appeal with the Appeals Court?

by Editorial Board on March 1, 2011 · 0 comments

in Questions & Answers,Appealing a SS Decision,Why People Are Denied

No.  You can appeal to the Appeals Council on your own.  However, it can be more difficult to win at the Appeals Council without an attorney, and if you lose the consequences for your disability claim could be drastic .

Appealing to the Appeals Council is a much different process than having a hearing with a Social Security disability judge.   Hearings with judges are done in person.  Judges have a duty to develop your case and make a full and fair decision.  That duty is even higher when the person seeking disability benefits does not have a lawyer.

Appeals to the Appeals Council are done by written correspondence.  You do not get an opportunity to speak to the person deciding your case.  Since all arguments are submitted in writing the ability to compose brief, technical legal arguments is essential.

The arguments that work best at the Appeals Council are arguments that the disability judge made procedural errors in deciding your case.  Did the judge follow Social Security’s guidelines that explain how the judge must examine the medical evidence and the testimony?  Did the judge properly apply all of the relevant rules and regulations?  Making effective arguments to the Appeals Council requires familiarity with Social Security’s many disability rules and regulations as well as case law.  Few people other than disability attorneys have these qualifications.

If you fail to persuade the Appeals Council your only remaining appeal is to a federal district court.  Appeals to federal court are extremely complex and difficult to win and require a $350 filing fee.   If you do not win your case at the Appeals Council or federal court then the decision denying your benefits becomes final.  Depending on the amount of insurance quarters you earned you might not able to file another claim.  If you are able to refile you will still likely lose your eligibility for disability benefits for the time prior to the disability judge’s decision.

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