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The Appeals Process

What are the levels of appeal if I disagree with the decision on my claim?

There are four levels in the appeals process:

  • Level I -Reconsideration: A complete review of the claim is done by someone other than the person who made the original decision. We reevaluate all evidence, plus any additional evidence submitted and make a new decision. If you disagree with the reconsidered decision, you can choose to go to the next level of the appeals process. To request a reconsideration, use the Form SSA-561-U2 (Request for Reconsideration), or you can file your disability appeal online.

  • Level II - Hearing: A hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ). You and your representative, if you have one, may come to the hearing and present your case in person. The ALJ will evaluate all the evidence on record, including any additional evidence brought to the hearing, and will make a decision. To request a hearing by an ALJ, use the Form SSA-501 (Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge), or you can file your disability appeal online.

  • Level III - Appeals Council Review: The Appeals Council may issue its own decision or return the case to the ALJ to issue another decision. To request an appeal, use the Form HA-520-U5 (Request for Review of Decision/Order of Administrative Law Judge). You cannot file an appeal online.

  • Level IV - Federal Court Review: If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision, you have the right to file a civil suit in Federal District Court.