A bulk of the work done by a North Shore Social Security IL attorney is helping their clients with appealing denials of Social Security disability or supplemental security income applications. If you choose to appeal the decision of denial in your case, it may go through four different stages of appeals. Here is what our Chicago disability lawyers think you need to know about each separate appeal level in disability matters.


After you have received a denial, the first step you can take in the appeals process is to file a request for reconsideration with the Social Security Administration. Such a request can be filed either if your initial application for benefits was denied or if your benefits were terminated following your continuing disability review, or CDR.

1. Filing a reconsideration request for an initial claim denial

If you have received a notice of denial for your initial claim for disability benefits, you can choose to file a request for reconsideration for that decision. Your letter will have the information necessary so that you know what you need to do to file your request. It will also include information about your medical condition. In order to appeal, you will need to contact your local Social Security Administration office. When you file your reconsideration request, a medical examiner and a consultant who were not involved in the initial decision will review your claim again. None of those involved in your initial denial will work on your reconsideration. The Disability Determination Services, or DDS, approves approximately 5 to 10 percent of reconsideration requests. If you are denied again, you will receive another notice of denial in the mail. You can then choose to continue pursuing your claim to the next level if you wish to do so.

2. Reconsideration after termination of benefits during a continuing disability review

If you were already receiving benefits, but your benefits were terminated following your continuing disability review, you can request a hearing about the termination. This hearing will be held in front of a disability hearing officer, or DHO. The Social Security Administration ends benefits when they either believe that you have gotten well enough to work again or if you did not cooperate during the CDR process. If you do request a hearing, your claim will first be reviewed by a DDS examiner and consultant. They may reverse the decision to terminate your benefits without your going through the DHO hearing. When you are preparing for your hearing before the DHO, remember that the Social Security Administration is required to present evidence that you have experienced substantial medical improvement. Your doctor’s opinion may help you at this stage, so you may want to get documents and an opinion from them. Even if you have experienced some improvement, if it is not significant, the DHO should overturn the benefits termination and allow your benefits to continue. If they rule against your reconsideration request, you can then ask for a hearing before the administrative law judge, or ALJ.

ALJ Hearing

If you want to appeal your denial of either your initial benefits claim and reconsideration request or your denial of your continuing benefits and your reconsideration, you may want to get help from Chicago disability lawyers. A lawyer can help you to gather all of the information and documentation you need in order to support your claim before the ALJ. After your reconsideration is denied, you must request a hearing no later than 60 days following the denial. Your hearing will be held before an ALJ, who is a lawyer that works for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review for the Social Security Administration. On average, around 67 percent of appeals taken before an ALJ are successful, with some ALJs being more lenient than others. If your ALJ denies your claim at your hearing, the next stage in the appeals process is to request a review by the Appeals Council.

Review by the Appeals Council

The Appeals Council is not required to review all of the claims it is requested to review. They are given discretion in dismissing, denying or reviewing requests. Before granting a request for review, the Appeals Council will first decide whether there appears to have been a major error in the ALJ hearing. Examples of situations that might result in a review are if the ALJ cut your hearing short, made a legal error or issued a decision that was not legally supported by the evidence. A review may also be granted if there was a large procedural problem, such as a failure to notify you in advance about the presence of an expert who then testifies at your hearing. At this stage, only around 2 to 3 percent of reviews will be won. However, this stage is necessary if you plan to file an appeal in federal court. In order to do so, you must exhaust all of your potential remedies at the agency level.

Appeals to the Federal Court

After you have exhausted all of your appeal remedies, you are allowed to file a lawsuit in federal court against the Social Security Administration for denying your benefits claim. The federal court process is very complicated, and you will likely need the help of an attorney who can file your lawsuit and appear on your behalf. You will not have a hearing before a jury. Instead, the federal judge assigned to your case will review the proceedings that occurred through the administrative levels to look for legal errors that may have been made. About one-third of cases appealed to federal court are successful, with judges normally ruling that the ALJ did not properly consider your symptoms or pain, didn’t give enough weight to your doctor’s own opinion or failed to ask your treating doctor for their opinion about your ability to perform work and the tasks of daily living. Few people file lawsuits against the Social Security Administration in federal court for several reasons. Not many lawyers are willing to take appeals to the federal level. Filing such a lawsuit is very expensive, and it can take several years to even get to that stage of appeal. Overall, less than 1 percent of disability denials are appealed to federal court. If you plan to appeal your denial, you may have a better chance of being successful if you seek the help of a disability attorney. An attorney who regularly practices in disability law may have a better understanding of the types of evidence you’ll need to best support your claim before the ALJ. They may also get statements from your doctor and other treating professionals for your hearing, as well as from other potential witnesses who are able to testify about how your medical condition affects your ability to do work.

Contact a North Shore Social Security IL Attorney About Your Disability Appeal

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