Definition of Appeals Council
The Appeals Council is the Supreme Court of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Established in March 1, 1940, it consists of three members. The function of the Appeals Council is to review disability cases which have been denied at the application, reconsideration and hearing levels. Like the Federal Supreme Court, however, the Appeals Council has discretion over the cases they choose to review. In fact, the Appeals Council can choose to review the case, remand it back to the Administrative Law Judge, or refuse to review it at all.
Unfortunately, if a claimant has had their case denied by the Administrative Law Judge many disability lawyers will recommend they resubmit their case by filing a new application. This is because out of the almost 200,000 requests for review which are sent to the Appeals Council, approximately 2% of the cases they accept for review are later approved for benefits.
Additionally, the process is extremely slow. If the Appeals Council does choose to review a claimant's case it could take up to 365 days to get a decision. If the Appeals Council chooses not to review a claimant's case or they deny their SSI or SSDI claim, the claimant has the legal right to file a federal case in federal court. Federal civil actions must be filed within 60 days from the date the applicant received their notification from the Appeals Council.
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