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This page contains information about how to appeal a decision you've received regarding your disability benefits. Some people try to do it themselves, which is possible. Others find it useful to have a lawyer or other qualified person to represent them at the hearing. Read the information on this page to help you make a decision about which direction you want to go for your disability appeal.
The Appeals Council is in Falls Church, Virginia with additional offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Crystal City, Virginia. We are here to provide you with useful information about the Appeals Council and requesting review of an administrative law judge's hearing decision.

How to ask for appeals council review?

The Social Security Administration provides three ways to request a review:

iAppeal Online Appeals Application

The AC Request for Review link below will take you to the Getting Ready Webpage that provides helpful information before you start your online appeal.

Appeals Council Request for Review

(iAppeals i520)

You can download the review order (form HA-520) and send it directly to

Appeals Council, SSA/OARO
5107 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3255

You can also request a review by visiting a Social Security Office or by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 and fill out a request for review form.

Normally, you have 60 days after you receive the notice to ask for an appeal, assuming you receive the notice five days after it was mailed from the Social Security Administration. If you wait more than 60 days, the appeal may be dismissed. If you have waited over 60 days, you must explain the reasons for the delay in writing, so you can ask for an extension, which is not guaranteed. The Social Security Administration will consider your request and make a decision based on the reasons provided.

What happens when you ask for a review?

The Council looks at all requests, but the request may be denied if it believes that the decision was correct. If it decides to review it, it may decide your case itself or return it to a judge for further review. The Social Security Administration recommends to adhere by the time limits to increase the chances your request is approved. Also, you should submit any additional evidence when you file your request for review. You and your representative should request copies of hearing recordings and exhibits only if you really need them for your appeal. Do not make automatic request, multiple requests for the status of your application. You can verify that the Appeals Council has received the request through your local Social Security office, local hearing office or by calling our Congressional and Public Affairs Branch at 703-605-8000 and toll free at 1-877-670-2722.

You may want a lawyer, friend, or other qualified person to represent you. If you have trouble finding a representative, your local Social Security Office can help you find someone. If you have a representative, you have to pay for his/her fees.

What happens if you disagree with the decision?

If you disagree with the decision or your appeal for review is denied, the next step if to file a civil suit in a Federal District Court. If you decide to sue, the staff at the Social Security Administration will prepare the record of the claim for filing with the court, including all documents and evidence obtained by the Social Security Administration and used to arrive at the final decision. There is a fee for filing a civil suit in Federal Court.

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