The National Social Security Appeals Council is the last stage in the administrative decision process. This agency is located in Virginia. It was created as a three-member body to oversee the hearings and appeals process to ensure consistency and fairness in the decision-making process.

What Happens If the Appeals Council Grants My Request for Review?

If the Appeals Council grants a request for review, it will either decide the case or return it to an Administrative Law Judge for a new decision.

Is There a Time Limit on Filing for Review?

Generally, the appellant has 60 days after receiving a notice of decision to file for an appeal. If they do not file a timely appeal, their request for review will likely be denied. If an appellant files an appeal after the deadline, they must explain the reason they filed late and request that the Appeals Council extend the time limit.

What Do I Do If I Disagree with the Appeals Council’s Decision?

If the appellant disagrees with the Appeals Council’s decision, their last option may be filing a civil suit against the Commissioner. This is considered the last level of the appeals process, but it actually an entirely new undertaking with new potential consequences and expenses.

What Happens When I Bring a Civil Action against the Commissioner?

When someone brings a civil action against the Commissioner, it means they are seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) final decision. This requires the staff in the Office of Appellate Operations to prepare a record of the claim to be filed with the Court. Such a record will include all the documents and evidence SSA relied upon in making the decision or determination.

Do I Need a Lawyer’s Help?

The laws that regulate social security are very complex and confusing, and only becomes more difficult and complex the further into the process you go. A Social Security Benefits attorney can help you understand which social security benefits you should be receiving, and can also help you if you need to appeal a denial of social security benefits, or even file a lawsuit.