The Appeals Council, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, is the third step a claimant may employ if their case is denied by an administrative law judge (ALJ). The Appeals Council does not evaluate the quality of the claimant’s claim, but rather seeks to determine if the ALJ erroneously denied the claim. The Appeals Council looks for any technical, legal or procedural errors committed by the ALJ. A claimant may submit their case to the Appeals Council within 60 days of receiving the ALJ’s decision. Any request for review must be submitted to any of the Appeals Council’s offices in Virginia; however, requests must be done in writing. The Appeals Council can take up to 345 days to review a case; however, upon their review the Council holds the ability to either: deny the request for review, resubmit the case to the ALJ or to issue a new decision in favor of the claimant. If the Appeals Council denies the claim, the claimant may file an appeal to the federal district court.

It is important to understand that if you appeal your social security disability claim to the Appeals Council, you are not given another bite at the apple.  Your initial hearing in front of an administrative law judge gives me as your attorney the opportunity to argue the facts of your case and present evidence as to why your disability claim should be approved.  However, at the Appeals Council level, the issues reviewed are purely legal and you will not have a chance to present new evidence.  That is why I highly suggest you retain an attorney and not attempt to handle the disability appeals hearing by yourself.  Whether you live in Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta, Panama City, or anywhere near our soon-to-open Coral Springs office, contact us for a free consultation with a Social Security Disability Lawyer.  When in Doubt… Call Liebenhaut.

By: Matt Liebenhaut