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SSA- Appeals Council will they approve my disablity case?

The Appeals Council, which is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, is the last appeal’s option within the Social Security Administration (SSA) system. If you are denied at this level this is the final Social Security Administration decision and all further appeals will have to be made by filing a federal court case.

The Appeals Council is a three member body, and it was established in March 1, 1940. Its goal, according to the SSA is to, “Promote national consistency in hearing decisions made by referees (now Administrative Law Judges) and ensure that the Social Security Administration's Board (now the Commissioner's) records were adequate for judicial review.”

If a disability claimant loses at the administrative hearing level and they wish to make a final appeal they can request a review from the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may grant, deny or dismiss a review for request. In 2011, there were 173,000 cases filed for review by the Appeals Council.

Cases which are reviewed by the Appeals Council may be remanded back to the Administrative Law Judge for another review, they may be evaluated by the council, or the council can refuse to review the case. Disability cases which are evaluated by the Appeals Council may be approved or denied.

What is the rate of approval for the Appeals Council?

Many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants assume that when they file their disability application they will wait a few weeks and the disability check will appear in their mailbox. If you are at the Appeals Council level you may have been waiting two years for disability and you are under no false disillusions about the fight you have on your hands.

The bad news is getting your claim reviewed by the Appeals Council will be very tough and getting an approval will be almost impossible. Statistics indicate that the Appeals Council rate of approval rate is 2%, another 2% are dismissed, 22% are remanded for a new hearing and 73% are lost or denied.

What does this mean for you? It means you need to talk to your disability lawyer about whether or not filing a SSA disability appeal to the Appeals Council is the best course of action for your disability case. Many disability lawyers, given the low rate of approval, will not take cases to the Appeals Council level, especially if they have not been involved with the disability case from the beginning. Instead, many disability lawyers will suggest filing a new application and beginning the process again from the start.

This is a tough decision. Filing a new SSI or SSDI claim is likely to eliminate a significant amount of back pay and it can mean months or years of more waiting. But given the statistics outlined above it could be a better course of action than waiting for the Appeals Council to deny your disability case.

How long will I have to wait to have my SSA case heard by the Appeals Council?

Many SSI and SSDI claimants want to know how long it takes for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to complete their various tasks. Unfortunately, this is one of the few questions that cannot be answered with any type of certainty. Sometimes the Appeals Council will make their disability decision within as little as three months, but more often claimants will wait 18 to 24 months for a decision.
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