The Disability Benefits Appeals Process: Appeals Council
Posted on behalf of Phillips Disability, P.C. on Aug 20, 2015 in Appeals
It is estimated that only one-quarter to one-third of all disability benefits claims are approved during the initial stage of the application process. This means that a large portion of applicants will appeal a denial and move onto the hearing stage of the appeals process. If you disagree with the decision made during your hearing, the next step will be the Appeals Council where you have the opportunity to appeal the decision and possibly have your case reheard by another judge.
According to the Social Security Administration, the Appeals Council is the final level of administrative review for the agency.
In order to have your case remanded, or reheard, by another administrative law judge (ALJ) you must find an error of fact or law in the judges decision. Below are a few errors that could get your case remanded.
Insufficient Weight was Given to Your Treating Physicians Opinion
This is the most common reason for which the Appeals Council will grant another hearing. Your doctor should have completed a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form demonstrating that you have substantial work-related limitations. If the judge does not show considerable consideration for the limitations described by your doctor, there may be grounds for an appeal.
ALJs Decision is Not Supported by the RFC and Medical Evidence
An RFC is an important part of your claim because it details what work activities, according to your doctor, you are and are not able to perform based on your condition. You may be able to appeal a decision if the ALJs assessment of your limitations says that you can do more work than what the medical evidence suggests.
Vocational Expert Testimony is Incorrect
It is important to pay close attention to the Vocational Expert testimony during your hearing. If the ALJ fails to accurately portray your condition in hypothetical questions to the expert, you may be able to appeal the decision.
Because filing an appeal with the Appeals Council requires an astute knowledge of the law and strict evaluation of all of the facts presented and addressed in your hearing, a disability benefits lawyer will be a valuable asset during the appeals process.
Our team of disability benefits lawyers can help you appeal a denied claim.
Call 1-800-503-2000 to set up a free consultation today.