Experienced Disability Lawyers

Federal court: Your last option to appeal a denied claim

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | Social Security Disability

For Indiana residents who are seeking Social Security Disability benefits, there is bound to be fear and concern that the claim will be denied. For those who believe their condition, illness or injury warrants benefits, it is imperative to remember that simply because a claim was denied, it does not automatically end the process. There are four levels of appeal that can be used to try and receive benefits.

However, for many people, the first three levels of appeal – reconsideration, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and an Appeals Council Review – are also denied. The last level of appeal is a civil claim in federal court. While there is no guarantee that the case will be approved at this level either, it is possible. Understanding the process is key from the start.

When can there be a federal court review?

People whose application for SSD benefits has been denied by the Appeals Council or if the Appeals Council does not even agree to review the case at all can file a civil lawsuit for a federal court review. It will be filed in the location where the person lives or conducts their business. Those who do not reside within a judicial district or do not have a place of business need to file in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

There are time limits for which the appeal can be filed. Whether the Appeals Council denied the appeal or simply did not agree to hear the case, the filing in U.S. District Court must be done within 60 days of getting their official notice.

People might be under the impression that simply because their claim was denied at every level before getting to the federal court review, they will also be denied in the civil case and there will be no alternatives. A vital part of the Federal Court case is to know how the case will be assessed. It is different from other levels of review.

The court will look at the case and determine if there was a mistake in denying the application. A misstep could have occurred at every level from the initial application to the first three levels of appeal. The court does not accept new evidence in a Federal Court review. It will simply take a fresh look at the evidence that is already available. Federal court review is not an outright disability hearing. It is simply to look at the previous legs of the claim to see if mistakes were made and, if so, to rectify them.

Do not simply accept a denied claim

People who believe they need Social Security Disability benefits and are denied at any point in the process will be understandably disheartened. Still, there are ways to appeal and eventually receive benefits. Since a Federal Court case is the last level, it is crucial to be fully prepared for it. At any juncture of the case whether it is when first applying or addressing denials and appeals, it is useful to have comprehensive guidance to try and achieve a favorable outcome.