People sit around a conference room table. There are four levels of Social Security Disability appeals. People sit around a conference room table. There are four levels of Social Security Disability appeals.

Four Levels of Disability Appeals for People in Baltimore, DC & VA


    Do You Want to Keep Your Chance At Disability Benefits Alive?

    You were counting on Social Security Disability benefits to give you financial relief when you can’t work because of serious health problems.

    Then you got denied.

    It’s disheartening. But don’t give up.

    A denial doesn’t mean your hope for benefits is over. In fact, most people get denied and need to appeal the decision to win.

    Appealing has four distinct levels, which we outline below.

    Appealing is complicated. Now is the time to work with a professional disability advocate. Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates can take on the hard work of filing your appeal, so you can rest easier knowing that your claim is in good hands.

    Don’t wait. You have 60 days to file your appeal once you receive notice of your benefits denial.

    Social Security Disability benefits could still be a way for you to hold on to a sense of independence.

    And we’ve helped thousands of people win benefits for 30 years, including people in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Alexandria and Northern Virginia, or anywhere in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. And all around America.

    Social Security Disability Is All We Do.

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    Reconsideration & Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearings for Social Security Disability

    When you’re denied Social Security Disability benefits, these are your first two steps to appealing the denial:

    1. File a Request for Reconsideration.In this step, you ask Social Security to give another look at your disability claim. Someone different from the original claims examiner who denied you will review your file. You can add new information to address the reasons why you were denied the first time. Most of the time, though, Social Security will stick with its initial decision to deny.
    2. Go to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) If you were denied at the Reconsideration level, we can have your case evaluated at a hearing by an ALJ. At this point, Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates will provide evidence from your doctors along with any additional medical evidence and work history. Social Security may have expert witnesses. You and your disability advocate will get an opportunity to cross-examine them and counter any statements they make to suggest you aren’t qualified for benefits. It’s important to prepare your case and your testimony before you go into your ALJ hearing.

    ALJ hearings are important because it may be your only chance to explain to someone at Social Security in person why you should get benefits. This is the appeals level where many people finally win benefits.

    And if you go into your hearing with a professional representative, like the disability advocates at Mathis & Mathis, one government study found that your chances of winning approval increase by almost three times.

    No matter where you are in the disability appeals process, you can start with a FREE consultation from us.

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    Appeals Council & Federal Court Cases for Social Security Disability

    If the ALJ also denies your claim, your case still is not necessarily over. These are the next two levels of appeal:

    1. Ask for an Appeals Council Review.Your disability advocate can now send your case to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council, located in Falls Church, Virginia, with additional offices in Baltimore. The Appeals Council renders Social Security’s final decision. It looks at all requests for review, but it may deny your request if the Council believes your hearing decision was correct. If the Council reviews your case, it can either grant benefits to you outright or send your case back to the ALJ for further review. Some cases are automatically chosen for review by a Decision Review Board. If that happens, you have 10 days to explain to why you disagree with the denial. It’s important to contact an experienced representative before you get to this point, so there’s enough time to prepare. It’s tough getting approved at the Appeals Council level.
    2. File a lawsuit in Federal Court.If the Appeals Council declines to review your case, or if you disagree with the decision the council makes, your last step is to file a lawsuit against Social Security in Federal District Court. You’re now leaving the Social Security process. District Court is not part of Social Security. Federal Court appeals are typically about procedural issues rather than medical facts. No one is allowed to testify. You can’t present any new evidence. It can take a year or longer to receive a decision from the judge. The judge could award your benefits, deny your benefits or send your case back with instructions to Social Security on how to proceed.

    Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates can refer you to an experienced attorney to handle your case in Federal Court.

    Please contact our office immediately to get started, because as with other appeals steps, you must file your federal case within 60 days from the date you received your Appeals Council denial.

    Let’s get started on moving you beyond the hardship you’re feeling now to a new chapter in your life.

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    Applying or Appealing, We Can Help

    Whether you’re in the initial stages of applying, appealing a denial of benefits, or wondering if you qualify, Mathis & Mathis can help.
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    Social Security Disability FAQs

    Because applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be complicated, you likely have many questions about the process. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

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    Disability FAQs »

    SSD 4 Levels of Appeal: A Quick Chart

    For a fast overview of the four levels of appealing a Social Security Disability denial, see this guide we created at Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates:

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    Open the Appeals Chart »

    Hear from a Mathis & Mathis Client

    “I could not recommend Mathis & Mathis highly enough. They were kind, patient and thorough. No question was too small. They were timely in responding to me. While the process of applying for and obtaining disability is a long, tough road, Mr. Mathis made everything so much better. If you are thinking about applying, please do and know you will be taken very good care of . . . just like family.”

    —Tracey Jones on Google Reviews