Social Security Application and Appeals Process

1. Initial application

The claimant must complete an application for disability benefits. Then, the Disability Determination Service obtains your medical evidence and goes through the 5-step evaluation to determine disability. The claimant may be scheduled for a consultative examination with a state doctor as well.

2. Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge

If the initial application is denied, the claimant can file a request for a hearing before a judge, in which the case is presented through the claimant’s testimony and medical evidence. An impartial vocational or medical expert may also testify at the hearing. Although the claimant has a right to a hearing, he/she may waive that right, opting for a decision based only upon the medical evidence instead. Upon evaluation of all the evidence, the judge will issue a written decision.

NOTE: A request for a hearing must be filed within 60 days of the date of denial.

3. Appeals Council

If the claimant receives an unfavorable decision, or does not fully agree with the judge’s decision, an appeal can be filed with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is comprised of administrative law judges who have the authority to grant, remand or deny your appeal. The Appeals Council will consider the hearing record and any additional evidence that has been submitted subsequently.

NOTE: An Appeals Council appeal must be filed within 60 days of the date of the unfavorable decision.

4. U.S. District Court and beyond

If you do not agree with the action the Appeals Council has taken, the appeal moves out of the administrative courts. Subsequent appeals are filed in the federal courts: U.S. District Court, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court.

If you have questions about Social Security Benefits, contact our Michigan Social Security attorneys today for a free consultation.