ODAR Hearings and the Other Appeal Levels

Published: 15th March 2010
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Not all applications for Social Security benefits are approved because the Social Security Administration (SSA) often initially find majority of the applicants unqualified to receive such benefits. Applicants whose application was rejected are entitled for an appeal which will be covered by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

According to SSA, ODAR currently has 141 hearing offices, 10 regional offices, five satellite offices, and a national hearing center. In addition, the estimated number of Administrative Law Judges already reached 1,100 and the support staff within the field organization already reached 4, 900.

Different Appeal Levels

Failed applicants are entitled to appeals namely reconsideration, hearings, reviews by the Appeals Council, and the federal court. Those who want to appeal should make a written request within 60 days from the day they received their letter of rejection.

Here are the different processes that are followed in these levels of appeal:


This is known as the first level of appeal. It is a full review of the applicant's claim by a person who was not involved in the initial decision. The pieces of evidence that were presented when the first decision was made, in addition to any kind of latest evidence will be looked at.

Almost all reconsiderations involve the assessment of the applicant's files without his or her presence.


The claimant may request for a hearing if he or she disagrees with the decision that was made in the reconsideration level. This will be performed by an administrative law judge who has no involvement in the initial or the reconsideration decision of the claimant's case.

Hearings are usually conducted within 75 miles of the claimant's house.

Appeals Council

If the claimant disagrees with the decision that was handed at the hearing, he or she may request for a review from the Appeals Council of the Social Security. The Appeals Council will study all the claimant's requests for review. However, it may reject a request if it sees that the hearing decision was accurate.

If it decides to review a claimant's case, it will either return the case to an administrative law judge for additional assessment or it can come up with a decision on its own.

Federal Court

If the Appeals Council decided not to evaluate a claimant's case or if the claimant is still not satisfied its decision, a lawsuit may be filed in a federal district court.

Asking Assistance from Lawyers

If your application for Social Security benefits was denied but you think you are qualified to receive such benefits, do not hesitate to ask for the help of skilled social security attorneys. These professionals will use their knowledge regarding ODAR hearings and the other levels of appeal for the success of your claim.

Visit our website to learn more about ODAR hearings and other related concerns. Dial our toll free number for legal assistance.

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