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Appeals Council denied SSDI what is next step?

If you have been denied by the Appeals Council you have been fighting for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) potentially for months or years and you may wonder what the next step is for your SSDI application. Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, “If the Appeals Council refused to hear my case what should be my next course of action for my SSDI case?”

Appeals Council and SSDI benefits denial

The Appeals Council is the “Supreme Court” of the Social Security Administration. This three member panel, which was established in 1940, is the last step within the Social Security Administration that will potentially review your SSDI application. This step, however, is different than other steps. If your SSDI application has been denied by the Administrative Law Judge the Appeals Council can decide to either remand or send the case back to the judge for further review, review your case themselves and approve or deny benefits or they can refuse to review your case completely.

The Appeals Council reviews thousands of cases each year but the bad news is they approve approximately 2%. So if your case has been denied by the judge and you are counting on a favorable opinion by the Appeals Council you may be disappointed.

Denied by Appeals Council what are my options?

Many claimants who have been denied by the Appeals Council wonder what their options might be. There are basically two options: you can file a claim with a district court, outside of the SSA system, or you can file a new SSDI application.

Filing a federal court case can be difficult and time-consuming. If you choose this option you must make your civil claim in the appropriate judicial court within 60 days from the date you receive your Appeals Council Notification. There are fees for this filing which can be waived if you have very limited income. Most claimants find that filing a federal case is not their best option, and many disability lawyers will refuse to take the case to court for you, especially if they have not been involved with your case from the beginning.

The next option is to file another SSDI claim and begin the process again from the beginning. There are several reasons this may not such a good option. First, you will essentially be “resetting” the clock so to speak. Which means your back pay would start to be re-calculated and you will only get back pay back to the most recent application date or date of disability (less five months), not your first application date. This could end up costing thousands of dollars in back pay if you are ever approved for benefits.

Your last option is to try to return to work. Obviously this will not be an option for some claimants, but if your condition has improved and you can retrain for some other type of employment, this may be your best option.
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