If you’ve exhausted all levels of the appeals process for a Social Security (SS) disability claim, your case may end up in Federal District Court. This last stage to appeal your claim isn't like Reconsideration or going before an administrative law judge. If you haven’t used a lawyer to help you through the other phases, you definitely need a skilled SS disability attorney for this process.

What to Know About Appealing in Federal District Court

SS disability lawsuit in Federal District CourtIt’s important to understand that appealing at the Federal level isn’t free. You may not have paid out any fees when requesting Reconsideration and a hearing before a judge because your disability advocate or attorney likely worked on a contingency fee basis. But when you take your case to Federal District Court, you have to pay to file your case.

Here is some additional information you need to know about this stage of the appeals process:

  • If you can’t afford the fee, you may be eligible for a waiver. You must do this in writing, and you must explain why you can’t afford the cost and provide supporting evidence.
  • At this level of appeal, you file a “complaint.” This document explains why you’re appealing the decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA). In essence, you’re suing the SSA for denying your claim for benefits. This complaint is then served on the SSA.
  • When the SSA receives your complaint, the lawyers for the agency file a response. This document explains to the Federal District Court why the SSA felt you weren't eligible for disability benefits.

Once these briefs are filed, the judge overseeing your case makes a decision. It can take over a year for the judge to rule, but when he does, there are typically three outcomes:

  1. The Court denies your benefits.
  2. The Court reverses the decision made by the SSA and grants you benefits.
  3. The Court sends your case back to the SSA to receive additional review.

It’s possible the Federal District Court will deny your claim. If this happens, there's still an additional option. Your attorney will likely discuss with you the value of taking the case to Federal Circuit Court.

Cuddigan Law Can Help

If you need help appealing your SS disability claim and/or have reached the point of decision about whether to file your claim in Federal District Court, you need skilled legal representation. Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law. We can help explain each level of the appeals process and work on your behalf to receive the best possible outcome for your disability claim.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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