What is the Disability Appeals Council, and what does it do?
The Disability Appeals Council is the third stage in the Social Security Disability (SSD) appeals process for disability benefits. You must request for a review to the SSD Appeals Council within 60 days from the receipt of the administrative law judge’s decision. The request for review must be in writing (not online) to the SSD Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia.
This stage of the appeals process is different from the previous two stages in that the Appeals Council will only review the judge’s decision. They will look into all the evidence you have provided for the hearing to check if the judge has missed any important details that could result in an erroneous decision. The entire process could take 3 to 24 months. The average time it takes is a little more than a year.
In most cases, the Appeals Council doesn’t find any evidence to suggest that the judge is in error and therefore the judge’s ruling remains. Many times, however, the Council may find that the judge has missed out on weighing in some important evidence, or made a technical error and send your case back to the judge for another hearing. This results in the case being remanded (or sent back) to the judge. One-fifth of the cases are remanded by the Social Security Appeals Council. Only about 3 percent of the judge’s decisions are overturned by the Appeals Council and a decision is made for approval of benefits.
An advocate will help you identify the technical errors that the judge may have made in the hearing decision. While requesting for a review to the Appeals Council the judge’s oversight must be mentioned. It is therefore in your best interest to have an advocate represent you at this stage of the appeals process.
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