To limit the spread of the Coronavirus we are asking you not to visit our offices. We want to keep our business open and keep working on your case. We can't do that if we are sick. So please do not visit our office building. If you need to speak to us, call us or contact us on this website's contact page. Thank you for your understanding.

Close Menu

The Appeals Council Denies More Than 80% Of Disability Appeals


If you lose your case at an ALJ hearing, then you have the right to appeal your case to the Appeals Council. An appeal must be written within 60 days of the date of the ALJ’s decision. The Appeals Council reviews cases from the entire country. On average, it takes up to two years for them to review an appeal. However, the time frame may be shorter. This means that no matter where you live in the country, all appeals are read at the same place:  the Appeals Council. However, no matter where you live we can represent you too. We can represent you in Utah. Find out more information about Utah Disability here. We can also represent you in Nevada. Find out more about Nevada Disability information here.

When you appeal your case, the Appeals Council has three options. First, they may deny review of your case (which means the case must then go to Federal Court). Second, they could remand the case back to the same ALJ for a new decision. Third, they might grant the case (this is very rare).  Unfortunately, data released by the Social Security Administration reveals that the number of claimant’s who are successful on appeal has plummeted over the past five years.

social security disability appeals council


In 2010 the Appeals Council remanded 21.77 percent of the cases under review. In 2011, the percentage of remands was similar, at 21.19 percent. The percentage of cases since then has steadily declined until 2015. In that year,  the Appeals Council only remanded 13.58 percent of the cases under review.  SSA’s data shows that in 2016, the percentage declined again to 12.3 percent. This means that out of hundreds of thousands of appeals, the Appeals Council remanded approximately 19,000 cases in 2016. Data is not available for 2017. But, the troubling trend of denying review for the majority of disabled individuals who appeal their case has not changed.

Since 2010, the Appeals Council has had an 8 percent drop in remands. They have also spent their time reviewing favorable ALJ decisions. They are reviewing favorable decisions and sending those cases back to ALJ’s for a new decision. This is the SSA overturning cases where the claimant was found eligible for benefits.  This is an alarming turn of events for the disabled community when one considers that over the same period of time, the ALJ award rate at hearing has fallen from 63 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2014.  In other words, the ALJ award rate has dropped by 20 percent in the last 6 years.


But, even when the ALJ grants a case there is a chance that the SSA will review it of its own accord and the claimant will have to go through another hearing. These statistics mean that hundreds of thousands of disabled people throughout the country are being denied at ALJ hearings and at the Appeals Council. Worse, once an ALJ grants a case, there is a chance the benefits can be taken away. This can happen to claimant’s simply because the Appeals Council has the power to review favorable decisions.

Do other court systems does review lower court decisions that are not on appeal? The answer is no. No other court system subjects independent judge’s decisions to review without an appeal. Obviously, the SSA is attempting to lower the amount of SSD cases that ALJ’s grant  by steadily denying review at the Appeals Council level and overturning favorable ALJ awards at the same time. If the percentage of cases on remand can drop so quickly in a 5 year period, then claimant’s are dealing with an unfair court system. Why spend so much money reviewing claimant’s favorable decisions from a judge, when there are thousands of people who need disability benefits? In this kind of system, you need at attorney with experience to help you win benefits.


If you need help filing for disability benefits, contact Cannon Disability Law.  We feel it is important to start your case with as at the outset, because having an attorney improves your chance of winning. If you have an attorney from the beginning of your case, then you will fill out forms properly. You will be able to submit appeals on time. And, you will know what medical evidence is necessary to win your claim. Experience helps us avoid costly mistakes. You do not want to find out, after waiting to years and going through a hearing, that you now need to appeal the judge’s decision.

Cases that are not reversed or remanded at the Appeals Council, must then be appealed to Federal Court. There is a 60 day deadline to appeal to Federal Court. However, you need an attorney to go to Federal Court. You will need to pay a filing fee. Also, you will need to file the proper paperwork. For example, you will need to file a Complaint. A Complaint also needs to be served on the correct parties in the case. There are specific rules which you must follow or the Federal Court may not hear your appeal. If you need to find out more about how to appeal to Federal Court, then you can do so on our website. Learn more about Federal Court disability review.

While receiving an unfavorable decision at the hearing level does happen. The hope is that you can avoid it by hiring an attorney when you file your application. You have nothing to lose by hiring us to help you win your case. The reason you have nothing to lose is, we accept all cases on a contingency basis. This means that you will not pay an attorney fee unless we win your case. You do not owe any attorney fee if we don’t win your benefits. Give yourself the best chance to win your SSD and SSI case. Contact a disability legal team with the experience to win your case. Do it today.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Contact Form Tab

Quick Contact Form