Disability Alabama recently helped a Social Security claimant with their federal appeals and got them a new disability hearing. This was a big win for the Claimant who argued that the ALJ who had ruled against him lacked the authority to decide his claim. As a result of the win, the Claimant will now get a second chance to prove their disability to a different judge.
Carr v. Saul
The Claimant and Disability Alabama can thank the United States Supreme Court for their recent decision in Carr v. Saul. As we’ve previously discussed, the Carr case concerned who could be an administrative law judge and when claimants and their lawyers had to object to improperly appointed ALJs. in 2021 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Social Security claimants and against the rigid interpretation of the Social Security Administration. In our Claimant’s case, the Supreme Court ruling meant that Social Security had to concede defeat on appeal and agree to a new hearing before a different ALJ.
The importance of new hearings.
A new hearing isn’t just a second opportunity to explain your disability to a judge. It’s also a chance to submit new medical evidence and show everything from deterioration of your condition to follow-up medical treatments and examinations. With new evidence and a better understanding of why a judge ruled against you in a previous hearing, a remand for a new hearing is a powerful tool for Claimants with an appointed representative.
Social Security Appeals
Short of an unlikely appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the appeal of a claim to a Federal Court of Appeals like the Eleventh Circuit is usually the last line of defense against a denial from Social Security. If your case makes it that far, then you’ve been waiting a long time for approval of your benefits - probably years. For that reason, you should recognize that your first ALJ hearing is the best opportunity to win your case. But since about half of Claimants are denied benefits by their ALJ, there are some things you can do to improve your chances on appeal.
5 ways to prepare for appeal before you appeal
- Talk with your lawyer early and identify all your medical providers, even those you’ve seen once. This may include non-traditional medicine like acupuncture,
- Talk with your lawyer before your ALJ hearing about what you’ll be asked at the hearing - both by the ALJ and by your lawyer.
- Be sure the ALJ knows about any problems you’ve had in getting treatment. If you can’t travel to a specialist because they’re far away - let the ALJ know. If you haven’t had medical insurance, or haven’t been able to afford a co-pay - let the ALJ know.
- Continue to get medical help and seek treatment after the hearing. If you lose your hearing get copies of medical records that are new since the hearing. You’re likely to be able to get another 6 months of medical records into evidence to support your appeal.
- Call a lawyer! If you lose your ALJ hearing, you should almost certainly take the next step and ask the Appeals Council to review your case. Talk to your lawyer about an appeal after a denial or seek out one that will. Remember you’ve only got around 60 days from the date of a denial to act.
Where to learn more:
- Read the decision in Carr v. Saul here to learn more about the Supreme Court’s opinion and how early you have to raise issues on appeal;
- Use Disability Alabama’s disability calculator for an estimate of your benefit. While you do not need any special information to complete the calculation you may want to take a moment to think about your average yearly income and current household income before using the disability calculator; and
- Contact Disability Alabama about help with your Social Security appeal in Alabama.