If your initial claim for disability benefits was denied, you have the right to request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). If the ALJ denies your claim, you can file an appeal with the Appeals Council. And if the Appeals Council denies your request, you can file a federal court appeal.
Unfortunately, navigating the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) appeals process can be long and mentally exhausting.
The good news is that you have a higher chance of winning your case at the federal court level than at any other appeal stage. Nearly 50% of all SSDI cases that appeal to federal court are successful at this stage of the appeals process. Keep reading to learn valuable tips on how to win your federal court appeal.
Denied by the SSA’s Appeals Council
In most cases, the first step in the appeals process is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The judge will review the evidence in your case and make a decision. If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision, you can appeal to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Appeals Council.
If the Appeals Council denies your appeal, or if it decides not to review your case, you can file a civil action in federal district court. You must file your lawsuit within 60 days of receiving a denial notice of your appeal from the SSA.
Win Your Federal Court Appeal
To win your federal court appeal, you’ll need to show that the ALJ’s decision was either unsupported by substantial evidence or rendered according to improper legal standards. Substantial evidence is “relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
In other words, if there is enough evidence in the record to support the ALJ’s decision, it will be upheld.
Here are some helpful tips on how to win your federal court appeal:
Don’t Try to Relitigate Your Case
The first thing you need to understand about federal court is that it is not an opportunity for you to start your case from scratch. The purpose of the federal court is not to take another look at whether or not you are disabled. Instead, it is to determine whether or not the ALJ made the correct legal decision in light of the evidence presented at the hearing.
So, you’ll need to focus your argument on the legal errors made rather than trying to present new evidence or argue that you are disabled.
Be Prepared to Argue the Law, Not Just the Facts
When you appear before a judge, you are expected to know the law relevant to your case and be able to argue why the ALJ erred in their application of the law.
At this point, it’s so important to have an experienced attorney by your side who can help you navigate the legal landscape and put together a strong argument.
Know Your Audience
It’s also important to remember that you will be presenting your argument before a judge who likely has little patience for nonsense. So you’ll need to be direct, clear, and concise in your argument—there’s no room for fluff or filler here. So get straight to the point and make sure every word counts.
Get a Good Diagnosis
One of the most critical pieces of evidence in an SSDI case is a thorough and well-documented diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Be sure to see multiple doctors and get detailed reports explaining your condition and how it affects your ability to work.
Gather Supporting Documentation
In addition to a comprehensive diagnosis, other types of evidence can be helpful in an SSDI case. Evidence includes employment records, performance reviews, wage stubs, and tax returns. Any documentation that can help establish your work history and earnings will help prove your case.
File Your Federal Court Appeal With the Help of the Lawyers at Grundy Disability Group
When it comes to filing a federal court appeal, the most important thing you can do is to seek out the help of an experienced disability attorney. At Grundy Disability Group, we have a team of experienced attorneys dedicated to helping our clients get the benefits they need and deserve.
We understand the ins and outs of the appeals process, and we know what it takes to win. So contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’re the most trusted disability lawyers in Kansas City, MO!
Disclaimer: This blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need help with filing a federal court appeal or any other SSDI appeal, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers today.