The Social Security disability process can be extremely challenging, especially once an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denies your claim. After receiving an ALJ denial, the next step is to Appeal the claim to the Appeals Council, which will review the Administrative Law Judge's decision for "errors of law".
What is an error of law?
The Social Security Administration has set up very specific guidelines for the judge to follow when evaluating a disability claim. When a judge does not follow a rule of law set forth in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) then the judge has commited an error of law.
For example, tne guidelines state the ALJ must include all the evidence submitted by the claimant in the claimant's file. If any evidence is missing from the file the judge must allow time for the claimant to submit that medical evidence and the judge MUST discuss the evidence in the decision. If the ALJ does not include the evidence it can be considered an error of law.
If the judge denies your claim - you must appeal the judge's decision to the SSA Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council denies your request for review you can appeal your claim to Federal Court.
What is a Federal Appeal?
A Federal appeal is a civil lawsuit that is filed against the Commissioner of Social Security, which is essentially the US government. The current Commission is Michael J. Astrue. It is important to file the Federal appeal in a timely manner.
At the Federal Court level it is important to understand that the Federal Court Judges are not determining if the claimant is indeed disabled. The federal judge can only determine if the Administrative Law Judge made an error or law.
Federal Appeals are extremely detailed and generally require a 20 page brief, citing specific case law and Social Security laws. When considering an appeal to the federal court, it is highly recommended that you hire a representative experienced in filing Federal claims against the Social Security Administration.
If you think there may have been an error of law in your claim, seek the advice of a representative. LaVan & Neidenberg® have several representatives that are admitted to practice in Federal Court and are experienced in Social Security law.