After an applicant receives a denial for social security disability insurance or supplemental security income, there are four levels of appeal that are available to him or her. If the applicant receives an approval at any level of appeal, he or she does not need to continue with the additional levels. A disability attorney in Chicago helps his or her clients with gathering the evidence they will need for the various stages of appeal.


A person can request a reconsideration of the denial of his or her SSDI or SSI application. A different person than the one who initially made the decision will then review the applicant’s file in order to make his or her own determination. The applicant will then be notified of the decision. If the applicant is again denied, he or she will have 60 days to request a hearing. It is important to meet this deadline or else the person will have to start the process over from the beginning.

Administrative Law Hearing

Most disability attorneys in Chicago start working on clients’ disability applications before the hearing in order to help them prepare. The hearing is held before an administrative law judge. It is more informal than other types of court hearings. The judge will hear evidence about the applicant’s disability and his or her ability to work. The judge will review the doctors’ reports, medical record and medical examinations. Around 66 percent of applicants receive approvals from administrative law judges.

Appeals Council

People who are denied at the hearing level may request a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is not required to review every claim. It can simply affirm the denial without a review. If it does grant a review, the Appeals Council may either conduct it or it may instead send the matter to another administrative law judge. People will be notified via mail of the Appeals Council’s decision.

Federal Court

The final level of appeal for SSDI and SSI claims is federal court. People may file cases in federal court appealing their denials. They should be aware that federal court filings are expensive, and the cases may take many months or years. If a person’s application has been denied at each of the lower levels, he or she might want to discuss whether or not to appeal it to federal court with his or her disability attorney in Chicago.