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You can question the decision Social Security makes on your case


If you are eligible for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income Benefits, we want to make sure that you get them on time and in the right amount.


After Social Security decides whether or not you are eligible for benefits, it will send you a letter explaining the decision.  If you do not agree with the decision, you have the right to appeal it.  When you ask for an appeal, the Social Security Administration may review the entire decision, including those parts which were favorable to you.


Four steps of appeal



Reconsideration  -  You may request a review of your case if you disagree with the first decision.  Then, a person who did not make the first decision will decide your case again.  This is called a reconsideration.


ALJ Hearing  -  You may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge if you disagree with the reconsideration decision.  The Administrative Law Judge will not have any prior participation in your case. 


Appeals Council Review  -  You may request an Appeals Council review of your case if you disagree with the Administrative Law Judge's action.


Federal Court Action  -  You may request an appeal through the United States Court system, starting with the United States District Court, if you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision or denial of your request for review.


                 We can help you complete specific forms for any of these steps of appeal
















You may have a representative   


Our law firm has provided representation to claimants at all levels of appeals since 1982.  We have handled thousands of cases at the reconsideration and hearing levels; many hundreds before the Appeals Council; and hundreds in federal court.


Time limits to appeal a decision


Generally, you have 60 days after you receive a notice of a decision to ask for any type of appeal.  Some types of decisions have a shorter appeal time.  If so, it will be stated in the notice of decision.

  • In counting the appeal time, it is presumed that you received the notice five days after it was mailed unless you can show that you received it later.


  • If you do not appeal on time, your claim is subject to being dismissed.  This means that you may not be eligible for the next step in the appeal process and that you may also lose your right to any further review.


  • You must have a good reason if you wait more than the allowed time to request an appeal.  If you file an appeal after the deadline, you must explain the reason you are late and request that the time limit be extended.

When and where your hearing is held


After you request a hearing, your Social Security office sends your case file to an Administrative Law Judge's office.  Although the Administrative Law Judge attempts to schedule all hearings promptly, there may be some delay if there are many requests ahead of yours or because of travel schedules.  At least 20 days before the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will send you a notice telling you the date, time, and place of the hearing.


The Administrative Law Judge usually holds the hearing within 75 miles of your home.  However, your hearing may be farther away so several cases can be heard in one location.  You are entitled to be reimbursed for travel expenses if your hearing is scheduled to take place more than 75 miles from where you live.


Administrative Law Judge hearing


Before the hearing:  You and your representative can look at the evidence in your case file and submit new evidence.


At the hearing:

  • The Administrative Law Judge explains the issues in your case and may question you and any witness at the hearing.


  • You may bring witnesses to your hearing.  The Administrative Law Judge may ask other witnesses, such as a doctor or vocational expert, to come to the hearing.


  • You and the witnesses answer questions under oath.  The hearing is informal but is recorded, usually by video.

After the hearing:

  • After studying all the evidence, the Administrative Law Judge issues a written decision.


  • The Administrative Law Judge sends you and your representative a copy of the decision or dismissal order.

You should go to your scheduled hearing


If the Administrative Law Judge schedules a hearing, you and your representative should attend.  It is very important that you attend a scheduled hearing.  If for any reason you cannot attend, the Administrative Law Judge should be contacted as soon as possible before the hearing and state the reason.


The Administrative Law Judge will reschedule the hearing if you have provided a good reason.  If you do not attend a scheduled hearing and the Administrative Law Judge decides that you do not have a good reason for not appearing, your request for hearing may be dismissed. 


Appeals Council review


If you think the Administrative Law Judge's decision or dismissal order is wrong, you may ask the Appeals Council to review your case.  The Appeals Council will consider comments and arguments made by you and your representative about the evidence and the law relevant to your case.  New evidence will be considered by the Appeals Council if it relates to the period before the decision rendered by the Administrative Law Judge.


The Appeals Council examines your case and notifies you in writing of the action it takes.  The Appeals Council may grant, deny, or dismiss your request for review.  If the Appeals Council grants your request, it will either decide your case on the record or return it to the Administrative Law Judge for further action (which could include another hearing and a new decision).  If the Appeals Council decides a formal review would not change the Administrative Law Judge's decision, you may file a civil action in the United States District Court serving the area where you live.


Federal Court Action


If you do not agree with the Appeals Council's decision or denial of your request for review of the Administrative Law Judge's decision, you may file a civil action against the Social Security Administration in the United States District Court serving the area where you live.


For more information


If you have questions about your appeal rights or any other matter concerning a Social Security claim, please contact our law firm.  We have handled literally thousands of Social Security cases.  We seldom encounter a situation that we have not dealt with before.





107 North Public Square

Glasgow, Kentucky  42141-2899

Telephone:  270-651-3131

Fax:  270-651-6746

Kentucky law does not certify specialties of practice. Lawyers and associates of Burchett Law Firm are not employees of, affiliated with, or endorsed by the Social Security Administration.

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