Social Security Disability claims can be appealed several times, and it is a good thing. Roughly 40% of first time applicants get their claims approved, and at the first appeal, which is called "reconsideration," about 10% of applicants are successful. The next level of appeal is a hearing, and depending on the Judge, your chances could be as little as one in three. If your claim is denied at hearing, you can seek another appeal with the Appeals Council.
At the Appeals Council, things move slowly, and more likely than not, the request for review will be denied. However, there are many cases where the Appeals Council will send a case back to a Judge to fix mistakes. This is called a "remand." Common remand issues include evaluation of medical opinions, witness testimony, or vocational expert testimony.
Even when a case is on appeal, you can submit new evidence, even if it did not exist at the time of the hearing. We will also review the Judge's Unfavorable Decision, and if there is a flaw in reasoning, or even an basic factual error, we will address these issues at the Appeals Council.
Another issue that comes up is whether to file a new application. If you call the Appeals Council to get an update on your appeal, you may get a pre-recorded message that tells you review could take a year and a half. Many of our clients have progressive illnesses that worsen over time, and we routinely advised our clients to file a new application, using the date after the Unfavorable Decision of the Judge as the alleged onset date.
However, Social Security issued a new ruling that put a stop to new applications while an appeal was in front of the Appeals Council, except where there is new informaiton that shows a worsening of a medical conditon, or a new and disabling medical condition. Even if your change in health worsens, you have to get permission from the Appeals Council to file a new application.
If you have a Social Security Disability claim that has been remanded, or you wonder if an appeal, at any level, makes sense, give us a call at 503-325-8600 to discuss your options. We have offices in Beaverton and Astoria.