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The first appeal available to claimants [in most states] is the request for reconsideration (“recon” commonly referred to as reconsideration). A reconsideration must be filed within 60 days of the claimants denied benefits claim.

The Reconsideration review step has been removed from the following states but will be reimplemented in early 2020

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Michigan, and
  • Missouri.

If a claimant files a reconsideration, another disability claims examiner will take a look at the file and make a new decision based on their findings.

ALJ Hearing

The second level of appeals that is available in most states to a disability applicant is the hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). An “ALJ hearing”  is typically requested after the denial of a reconsideration (again, within 60 days from the date of the reconsideration’s denial).

In Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, & Missouri, the ALJ hearing is the first level of appeal. In these states, the claimant has 60 days from the denial of the initial claim to request another hearing.

Appeals Council

The third level of appeals available to a disability claimant is a review by the Appeals Council of an ALJ’s decision.

At the Appeals Council, a judge’s decision could be reviewed for mistakes that are either technical in nature (for example, applying the wrong “age rules” to a claimant while denying their claim on that basis) or more substantial (such as failing to consider substantial medical evidence that was available during the time of the hearing).

The Appeals Council has several options available to it:

  • Reversing a judge’s decision and granting an approval.
  • Remanding a case (that is, finding fault with a judge’s decision and ordering that a second hearing be held), or
  • Issuing another denial (the wording of this type of denial letter states “your request for review is denied”).

Federal Court

A suit could be filed on behalf of the claimant in Federal Court.  This option could be utilized when the applicants case is denied by the appeals council.