Should I Appeal My Unfavorable Decision or Start My Disability Case Over Again?
First, ask yourself whether you truly are disabled. Do not appeal a bad case, even if it is your own. You are wasting not only the Appeals Council's time, but your own as well.
If you received an unfavorable decision after your hearing, be honest with yourself and assess the likelihood of your chances improving at the next level.
Also, keep in mind that even if you are successful with your appeal, your case has about a 95% chance of being returned back to the same Administrative Law Judge (judge) that originally found you not disabled.
That being said, here are some things to think about when pondering whether to appeal, give up, or file a new application.
If you are going to appeal the most recent decision in your case, do this:
1. Make sure your medical records actually reflect the fact that your are disabled. If they do, then that is at least one hurdle to overcome in saving your case.
2. Now that you can show you truly are disabled, carefully read the decision from your hearing. Read the rulings the judge quoted in his or her decision. Many times, these rulings are automatically placed into a decision without carefully considering each and every one. If after reading them, you can determine that the judge did not consider the law in regards to assessing your disability, then this may be a successful appeal.
However, try to keep in mind, even if you can get the case overturned on appeal and remanded back to the same judge that decided your case the first time, he or she will then correct the error in the application of the law and if applying to bad medical records, etc., will likely again find you not disabled. Therefore, you may have won the fight but lost the battle.
3. If you do decide to appeal, try and develop a legal argument from your success in finding the judge did not apply the law correctly to the facts in your case. The best cases before the Appeals Council are ones that show there has been a misapplication of the law or the judge's decision was not supported by the facts in your case.
Side note: If you do appeal your case DO NOT attack or alienate the judge. Be very respectful. He or she is going to read what you wrote. If you are a jerk (even though you are stressed, sick, and upset) you will probably lose again. Begin your argument stating that even though you disagree with the judge's decision, you respect his or her position. This is very important, so much so that you will see the Appeals Council show respect to the judge even if his or her decision is overturned and the case is remanded for a new hearing.
Should you file a new application?
Remember, filing a new application does not mean it is the same application you filed before. Here are some things you need to keep in mind:
1. Your onset date will need to be changed. You can't use the same onset date because the Social Security Administration has already ruled on whether or not you were disabled during this time period. If you are arguing you have the same conditions during the same time and plan on submitting the same medical evidence, you might as well go ahead and give up. You'll need to set your new onset date for the day after your initial hearing date.
2. Remember that the Social Security Administration will view your second application for disability benefits with suspicion. You are now one of the people contributing to the backlog in cases. Unless you have a condition that has become worse or you have a new disabling issue, then your chances of success are still not very high.
Try to keep in mind, just because you have heard the phrase that you just have to keep on applying until you win, doesn't make it true.
Third, should you just give up?
1. If you can't say yes to the issues surrounding appealing or refiling your claim, then you should likely give up. Try to go back to work and after some time if your conditions become worse, then it may be better to reapply then.