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Appeals Council

Posted on:1/22/2012
The last level of administrative review available to the claimant is the Social Security Appeals Council (AC). Any claimant denied benefits at the hearing level may appeal to the AC within 60 days of receiving notice of the ALJ's decision.


The last level of administrative review available to the claimant is the Social Security Appeals Council (AC). Any claimant denied benefits at the hearing level may appeal to the AC within 60 days of receiving notice of the ALJ's decision. The AC also has the prerogative of own motion review of cases, meaning that it initiates review proceedings itself.

The AC will essentially review the case on the record developed at the hearing level. However, the AC will receive new evidence if it believes the evidence is relevant to the decision it will make. In reviewing the ALJ's decision, the AC will decide if that judgment contained an abuse of discretion, an error of law, unsubstantial evidence to justify the findings and conclusions of law, or a broad policy or procedural issue affecting the public interest. The AC denies 87 percent of requests for review because ALJ decisions are found to be consistent with the statutes and regulations.

Beyond an AC denial, a claimant may file for judicial review in federal district court. There, the claimant will receive a review strictly on the record determining whether there was substantial evidence to support the SSA's findings, whether the claim was arbitrarily denied, or whether the agency misapplied the statutes. The Court will not substitute its judgment for that of the Agency; much deference will be paid to the opinion of administrative experts.


  
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