How Do I Appeal?

Process for filing the appeal

If you receive a denial letter you are allowed to appeal the decision. When you are filing an appeal, you are asking the Social Security Administration to take another look into their decision. In order to appeal, you must make a written request within 60 days of receiving your denial letter.

There are four levels of an appeal:

  1. Reconsideration
  2. Hearing (in front of an administrative law judge)
  3. Review through an Appeals Council
  4. Federal Court review

Here are definitions of each level of an appeal:


Reconsideration is a thorough review of your claim by someone other than the individual/s who took part in the initial decision. A review of initial evidence as well as any additional new evidence will be reviewed. Most reconsideration reviews do not require the claimant to be present, however there are cases where it will be necessary for you to be present – those which involve an appeal where the purpose is to appeal the decision that you are no longer eligible for disability benefits based on your medical condition having improved.


If your reconsideration phase does not give you your desired result, you may request a hearing. At the hearing level your case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge who had no part in the original decision or reconsideration of your potential claim.

Prior to the hearing you may be asked to provide further evidence regarding your claim. During the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will question you and any witnesses you may bring. You will need to attend your hearing; if you prefer not attend you will need to submit a request to the ALJ. In some cases, an Administrative Law Judge may override this request and ask that you appear at your hearing.
Following the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will make a decision regarding your claim. A letter will be sent you regarding the decision reached.

Appeals Council

If the hearing decision is not one you agree with, you may ask for your claim to be reviewed by the Social Security Appeals Council. At this stage, the Appeals Council will look at all requests but may deny a request due to the fact that they feel the hearing level decision was correct. In the event that the Appeals Council (AC) decides to review your case, it will do one of two things, decide the case itself for you, or return it to an Administrative Law Judge for further review. If the Appeals Council denies the request for review, a letter will be sent to you explaining the denial. If the Appeals Council returns your case to an Administrative Law Judge, you will receive a letter with the order.

Federal Court

If you are still in disagreement regarding the decision reached by the Appeals Council or if they have decided to not review your case, you may file a lawsuit in a Federal District Court.