Question: The Administrative Law Judge turned down my claim for Social Security disability benefits. His Order says that I have a right to appeal to the Appeals Council. What is that, and what happens if I appeal there?
Answer: The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia. The Appeals Council review process generally begins after an application for benefits has been denied at the hearing level. If you disagree with the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, you may file a request for a review with the Appeals Council.
If your case is presented to the Appeals Council, you do not actually appear, and you do not have another hearing. The Appeals Council will review the decision made by the Administrative Law Judge in your case. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for a review, but it may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision was correct. If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it will either decide your case itself; or, return it to an Administrative Law Judge for further review.
The Appeals Council will send you a written decision, letting you know what they have decided in your case.