Why won't they appeal my case?We have discussed in past posts why a disability lawyer does not agree to take all cases. Remember that disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and only take cases they think they have a chance of winning.
If you do not meet the basic nonmedical requirements of SSDI- you do not have enough work credits, your condition will not last 12 continuous months, your condition is not severe, or you are working too much - the disability lawyers knows they will lose your case and they will be wasting their time.
But what if you meet the nonmedical requirements and you have hired the disability lawyer to argue your case at the administrative hearing level but you were denied SSDI or SSI benefits and your lawyer refuses to appeal it to the Appeals Council? Why would your disability lawyer refuse to finish the fight and give you another a chance to win SSI or SSDI benefits?
This is a great question, and to answer it you must understand how the Appeals Council operates and the difference between it and the Administrative Hearing.
What happens at the Administrative Hearing?
By most accounts the Social Security Administrative Hearing is generally your best chance to win SSI or SSDI disability benefits. Why? The administrative hearing is your chance to share your story with an objective administrative law judge who has the authority to award Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
The Administrative Judge can see how you function, review your medical records and make a judgment on the reliability or your testimony. Although Administrative Judges approval records vary greatly throughout the United States, in most parts of the state some judges have an extremely high approval rate.
So what if you are denied at the Social Security Disability hearing? What is your next step?
Why wont my lawyer take my case to the Administrative Council
Keep in mind,the Appeal Council operates more like the Supreme Court than the Administrative Law Judge. Their primary objective is to do one of three things: decide if the decision from the judge was accurate (and if so they will refuse to review the case), review the case themselves or remand the case back to the administrative law judge for a second review.
If they do decide to review the case themselves they are looking for very specific criteria:
- Whether or not the Administrative Law Judge may an error of law.
- Whether the Administrative Law Judges actions, findings or conclusions cannot be supported by substantial evidence.
- Whether there is a broad police of procedural issue which might affect the public or general interest.
So, before your lawyer will decide whether or not they will appeal your case they will review the judges decision and determine if they believe the judge made an error in law. This is the most in the case being sent back to the administrative law judge.
If your disability lawyer does not believe they can prove there was an error in law they are unlikely to press on with the fight.
Other reasons a disability lawyer will not appeal a case to the Appeals Council
The most common reason I believe that a disability lawyer will not appeal a case past the hearing level is the extended time it will take for an Appeals Council review- an average of 345 days- and the unlikelihood that the Appeals Council will make a favorable decision, which is extremely low.
Most disability lawyers will simply recommend that disability applicants begin the process again with a new application.
- SSI and SSDI - what's the hold up? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)
- SSA disability Hearing - How do I Prepare? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)
- SSA Disability Decisions- Can Administrative Law Judges review online information? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)