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Appealing an Unfavorable Decision for Social Security Disability Benefits: Statistics Show the Road Gets Tougher

social security disability benefits


Recently the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) released its summary of requests for review from the 2013 fiscal year. Requests for review are appeals of decisions issued by Administrative Law Judges (“ALJ”) or dismissals by claimants for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits.  Of nearly 176,000 requests for review, a whopping 77% of requests were denied review by the Appeals Council. Once denied by the Appeals Council, an individual can possibly start an entirely new claim for benefits, which means losing years of potential benefits; or can appeal to United States District Court, which can become costly and time consuming. 17% of requests for review were remanded back to an ALJ for further consideration, 4% were dismissed by the claimants, and less than 2% were fully reversed and given a favorable decision by the Appeals Council.

These statistics emphasize the importance of an attorney when filing for Social Security Disability benefits. An individual who files an appeal to the Appeals Council is likely to get denied review almost 80% of the time. The key is being in the best position to win at your ALJ hearing, so the Appeals Council can be avoided altogether. If denied at hearing, the path to Social Security Disability benefits becomes increasingly more difficult. An experienced attorney can put you in a more advantageous position, and can assist you before it’s too late.

A recent client of Turley Redmond, & Rosasco, appeared unrepresented at her ALJ hearing in Jericho, NY. She was denied benefits by the ALJ even though she had significant spinal impairments. She retained our firm when looking to appeal her unfavorable decision. We fully reviewed her file, met with her personally and drafted a legal brief stating our reasons why the ALJ’s decision was incorrect as a matter of law. The Appeals Council granted our request for review and remanded (one of the 17% of requests for review that was remanded) the claim back to the original ALJ who did not find in the client’s favor originally. We represented her at her hearing and she was approved for benefits and received over two years of Social Security Disability benefits retroactively in addition to ongoing lifetime benefits. It is outcomes such as this that reveal how useful a skilled attorney can be in a Social Security Disability claim.

A loss at hearing is not the end of the road; in order to be one of the 17% of cases that is granted a remand by the Appeals Council, it is imperative to know the law, the Social Security Regulations and what to look for in an ALJ’s decision. An experienced attorney can help better situate you for an appeal to the Appeals Council. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding Social Security Disability, contact Turley Redmond, & Rosasco, L.L.P. at 631-582-3700.


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