Understanding the Social Security Disability Appeals Process

If you’ve been denied Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), it is important to know your options. Should you wish to have the decision reconsidered, the following are the levels of appeal for a denial of SSDI and SSI benefits:


In most states, the first step of the appeal process is to request that the initial denial of benefits be reconsidered. During the reconsideration, a medical consultant and examiner who were not part of the denial of your first claim will review your case at the Disability Determination Services level. A slightly different process exists if you are appealing the termination of disabilities. In this case your reconsidered appeal may need to be discussed in person with a Social Security representative. 

Hearing before an administrative law judge

If your request for reconsideration is denied, the next step in the appeal process is requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge. Your request must be filed within 60 days of receiving your appeal’s denial. The administrative law judge will decide to uphold or overturn your denial or termination of your benefits.

Appeals Council

Should your case continue to be denied, the next step is the appeal process is requesting a review from the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council has the authority to select which requests it reviews. If the Appeals Council believes the previous denial of your benefits was correct it may deny a review of your request.

Federal court

Should the Appeals Court decide not to review your case, or should you wish to appeal its decision, the next step in the appeal process is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. Your claim will be reviewed by a federal judge, who will decide on your case.

Appealing the denial of your disability insurance or benefits is often a time-consuming and intricate process that requires legal guidance. To learn more, meet with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer at the Lanier Law Group, P.A. in North Carolina.

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