If you are denied by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) after your hearing, you can appeal your case to the Appeals Council (AC) in Falls Church, VA. The Appeals Council can be and usually is the slowest part of a disability case. It can take up 1.5 years for a decision to be rendered on your appeal.
The AC can deny review (most common), remand to the ALJ or approve your case.The AC does not consider whether the correct decision was made about your disability; they simply look for legal error.
Prior to 2011, you could file a new claim and also file for an appeal at the AC if you received an ALJ denial. Now, you are limited to one or the other. This is an important choice and should be discussed with your attorney.
You have sixty days from the date of the ALJ denial to request AC review. There are two ways to request AC review. You can write a statement explaining how the ALJ erred in his/her decision or you can complete form HA 520, found here.
You can go to your local Social Security office to file the appeal or you can fax it in to the AC. You will need to call the AC’s main phone number and find out where you need to fax your request. The AC’s phone number is (703) 605-8000. Do not rely on fax numbers that you find for the AC online. The AC fax numbers are constantly changing. I would suggest a phone call to them to verify the correct fax number for you to send your request for review to.
If you are denied by the AC, you have the option of filing a case in District Court (DC). The DC, similar to the AC, looks for legal error, not whether the correct decision was made. In addition, you can file a new claim.
The Bishop Law Firm has experience with the Appeals Council and District Court. If you have been denied by an ALJ and are wondering if you should take your case to the Appeals Council or District Court, give us a call.