What are my Options if I Lose at my Hearing?

By Disability Group

About 30-90 days after your hearing you will receive a “Notice of Decision” in the mail.  This Notice of Decision will detail the decision made by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  If the decision is “unfavorable”, this means that that ALJ decided against you and you have been denied for benefits at the hearing.  If you lose at your hearing before an ALJ, you can appeal the decision.  Claimants can appeal a decision by asking the Appeals Council to review the case.  This is done by filing for the appeal at your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, and must be done within 60 days of your Notice of Decision. 

If the Appeals Council decides to review you case, they will look for issues such as mistakes of law or fact made by the ALJ.  If, for example, mistakes of law or fact are made, then the case may be overturned or remanded.  If the case is overturned, this means that the Appeals Council is reversing the decision made by the ALJ and ordering a different decision.  If the case is remanded, this means that it is sent back to the same ALJ who originally decided your claim, for further consideration.

Another possible type of decision that means you have lost at hearing is a “Dismissal”.  This may occur for reasons such as you not showing up to your hearing or if the ALJ determines that your case was already decided on the same issues and facts in a previous claim.  A dismissal can also be appealed to the Appeals Council and also must be filed within 60 days of the Notice of Decision.

A different option you have after losing at hearing is to file a new Initial Application.  This will start your claims process anew with a brand new claim.  This may be a good option if there is new or better medical evidence that was not included in your first application or if you have new or worsening medical conditions.

This is just an overview of the process, but an experienced attorney can better explain what your options are and what the best course of action may be.