I received an order today from the Social Security Administration Appeals Council today remanding a partially favorable decision from an Administrative Law Judge (the “ALJ”). My client was reluctant to appeal because he was also concerned about the decision being reversed and because the ALJ said my client was not entitled to any more benefits.
I explained to my client that there were several grounds for reversing the ALJ’s decision, and that receipt of additional benefits was dependent on just one of those grounds being accepted. Moreover, I advised my client that it was exceedingly rare for the Appeals Council to convert a partially favorable decision into an unfavorable one totally denying benefits.
Once the claimant understood why the ALJ’s decision was faulty, and that his approved benefits were not really at risk, the claimant decided to appeal the decision. Now that the Appeals Council has remanded the matter, there is a very good chance that the claimant will receive additional benefits. A claimant should ask his or her attorney for a detailed explanation if a hearing decision is not fully favorable, and should seek a second opinion if the attorney does not think there are grounds for an appeal.