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A disability award begins with an application to the social security office.  However, the initial application is usually denied. It is often denied again at a hearing, about 50 to 60% of the time.  Still, applicants for social security have several chances to win their case.

If you lose your hearing you can take your case to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is the last chance to submit evidence in your case.  It is also the last appeal before going to the federal courts.

Appeals Council Vacates Social Security Decision

Browne House Law recently represented a social security disability claimant at the Appeals Council. About six months after the case was appealed, the appellate panel ruled in the claimant’s favor. As a result the claimant will get a second hearing before a new administrative law judge.

For the past several years, only 10 to 15% of Appeals Council cases result in a victory for the claimant. Despite the odds, the claimant won a new hearing due to the submission of new evidence and a constitutional challenge to the conduct of the first hearing.

New Medical Records Can Change Your Case

In this social security disability case the claimant needed to visit with a specialist doctor. However, there weren’t any specialists available before the social security hearing. Without the exam and opinion of a specialist, the hearing judge ruled against the disability claimant.  Shortly after the hearing the claimant had an appointment with the specialist.

The specialist did some advanced testing that revealed a new medical condition.  That condition  supported the complaints the claimant had made at the hearing. The new results tests were powerful evidence. Indeed, the Appeals Council said the new evidence was one of the reasons and one of the reasons they vacated the decision of the hearing judge and remanded the case.

Hearings Before July 16, 2018 Were Unconstitutional

In 2018, a U.S. Supreme Court case, Lucia v. S.E.C., ruled that the way Social Security hearings were being conducted was unconstitutional. According to the high court, the hearing judges had not been properly appointed by the president in violation of the constitution.  The Browne House Law client was one where the hearing was held in a way that violated the law.

After the court said the hearings violated the law, Social Security issued a letter saying that disability claimants  could get a new hearing if they asked for it. . Therefore, according to Social Security’s own policy, they were required to give the claimant a new hearing.  The Appeals Council said little about the Lucia challenge.  However, it was one of the issues cited as to why the hearing judge’s decision was vacated..

What To Do If You Lost Your Social Security Case:

  • Pay attention to the deadlines in your denial letter. The Social Security Administration will typically give you 60 days to appeal your case;
  • If you have new medical records, submit them to the Appeals Council with your appeal;
  • If your hearing before an administrative law judge was before July 16, 2018, and your case is still pending, be sure to raise a “Lucia” challenge; and
  • Contact the lawyers at Browne House Law for an evaluation of your case, including cases to the Tuscaloosa Social Security Office.