When you’re waiting to see if your request for Social Security disability payments is approved or if you haven’t received the amount you were expecting, you may be wondering if you can sue. Unfortunately, the short answer is no.
According to federal law, you can’t directly sue the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA is also unable to assist you with a brief if you’re filing a federal appeal. You can, however, file the complaint on your own or hire a lawyer who has experience in bringing disability denials to federal court.
Appealing Social Security In Federal Court
You have 60 days to appeal from the date of the decision from the Appeals Council. You’ll have to visit the U.S. District Court in your region to file your civil complaint, which is a concise statement of the allegations and facts that explain your case to the court.
Since you can’t technically sue the SSA, the defendant in your complaint is the acting Social Security commissioner who is in office when you file your complaint. Once you write your complaint, make sure the document is filed with the correct court. You can use the federal district court locator to ensure you’re sending your complaint to the right place.
If you decide to appeal your Social Security denial without a lawyer, you still have to follow federal court regulations so your complaint won’t be dismissed. You can visit the United States Courts website to learn more about how to make sure your complaint is reviewed.
After You File Your Complaint
When the court receives your complaint, you’ll be issued a summons. You have to submit a copy of your complaint and your summons to the SSA. There are SSA locations, known as the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), where your complaint and summons is served. You can find your nearest OGC address online so you’ll know where to submit your paperwork.
An SSA attorney will file a response after you turn in your summons and complaint. The answer is basically a written explanation of why your claim was denied. When you receive a response, you should file your opening brief.
What Is an Opening Brief?
Briefs are legal documents that clearly state your viewpoint concerning the details of your case. For an SSA appeal, the first brief filed is yours, which is known as the opening brief. This brief investigates your claim denial as it pertains to testimony and medical proof.
Opening briefs are designed to convince the federal judge that the evidence of your case was not thoroughly considered and you need a new ruling that is in keeping with SSA laws. Your opening brief is important since it can determine whether you win or lose your federal appeal.
The Judge’s Decision
Once you’re able to get your case to a federal court judge, you’ll receive a ruling to let you know if you’re eligible for benefits. The judge could choose to remand the case, which means to send it back so your claim can be reconsidered. This increases the chances that your claim will be approved. Or, the judge may agree with the original decision of the SSA, and your claim will remain denied.
You can appeal to the federal court again, but the process will be more challenging and costly the second or third time around. If the judge agrees with your brief, they will override the SSA’s decision and you’ll start receiving disability benefits.
If you need to know about filing for Social Security disability or need to know how to dispute a decision regarding your Social Security payment, click here for answers to the most common questions.