Appealing the unfavorable decision of an administrative law judge is the final step in the administrative journey to receive Social Security disability. Unfortunately, about 82% of the appeals to the Appeals Council result in a denial of the Request for Review. To add insult to injury, not only does a Request for Review have about an 18% chance of success, it takes about a year and a half for the Appeals Council to arrive at its decision.
In some respects, a Request for Review may appear futile. However, it is necessary to file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council so that you can seek further review in Federal District Court. In court, depending on the case, the chance of having the decision of the administrative law judge reversed, is much higher than at the Appeals Council level. If you are one of the 82% who are notified by the Appeals Council that the decision of the administrative law judge should not be changed, then you have 60 days from receiving the determination of the Appeals Council to decide whether to begin another journey, the litigation journey.
Every person who loses an Appeals Council Request for Review of an administrative law judge’s unfavorable decision in a disability case has the right to request a court review. A court review is litigation. It involves filing a suit against the Commissioner of Social Security in the Federal District Court which sits in the judicial district where the claimant lives. A claimant who wishes to file a civil action in Federal District Court must pay a filing fee of $400 to the U.S. Court Clerk. Most people who are disabled do not have $400 to pay to file a civil action. It is possible to ask the court to waive the filing fee requirement. The request is done by completing a written waiver form, detailing the assets and expenses of the claimant. If the court allows the case to be filed without the payment of the filling fee, the court will order the U.S. Court Clerk to file the case without a fee and will also order the U.S. Marshals Service to serve the summons and complaint on the Commissioner of Social Security without the need for the payment of service of process.