Appealing the Social Security Administration's (SSA) decision about your benefits consists of four stages.  The first three stages are Reconsideration, Administrative Law Hearing, and Appeals Council Review.  If you disagree with the first three decisions made by the SSA, you may file a civil lawsuit in federal court.  This is the last level of the appeals course of action.

How Do I File a Civil Lawsuit in Federal Court?

If you choose to sue the SSA, your lawsuit must be filed within 60 days of receiving the determination letter from the Appeals Council.  You or your attorney, if you choose to have one, will have to file the lawsuit in the federal court for your judicial district where you reside.  You will have to pay a fee to file your case in the federal court. 

What Evidence Will the Federal Court Use?

The court will review all of the evidence and earlier proceedings held by the SSA.  The SSA will provide all the evidence and documents they used to make their decision.  However, the court will not conduct a hearing as to your medical condition. 

How Long Will It Take for the Federal Court to Rule?

Generally, a suit against the SSA will take 1-3 years before a ruling is made.  An attorney can advise you of the current timeframes.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Initiating a lawsuit in federal court is a very complex process with countless rules and procedures.  A government attorney experienced with taking legal action against the SSA can prepare, file, and litigate your suit.