Thursday, September 11, 2008

Appeals Council Remand

If an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denies your case, you can request Appeals Council review in 60 days by completing and submitting form HA-520. You can submit new evidence, and explain the reasons why the ALJ erred. The Appeals Council can approve benefits, which is rare, decide not to review your appeal, or send your claim back to the ALJ for another hearing. What should you do if your claim is remanded to the ALJ?

I received two Appeals Council remands this week. While the factual circumstances and legal issues were very different, in each case, the Appeals Council recommended that a Vocational Expert (“VE”) testify. orders Most Appeals Council remand orders direct the ALJ either to reconsider the same evidence, or to obtain new evidence. Regardless of what the remand order actually states, you should always submit additional evidence. I am advising the claimants to retain their own VE so they can provide reports to their ALJs.

I advise claimants to use VEs who testify for Social Security as this will expedite the appeal process. A VE report can be expensive, but is normally costs less than the amount of a month’s estimated Social Security Disability benefits. Additionally, retaining a VE prevents an ALJ who is predisposed to deny a claim from cherry picking a pet VE whom the ALJ knows will testify adversely.

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