The Social Security rules and regulations provide a disability claimant with a number of opportunities to appeal should one be denied. Following an initial denial, a Maine or Massachusetts Social Security disability claimant would appeal the decision by way of filing a Request for Reconsideration and then, upon further denial, by way of a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). A New Hampshire disability claimant, however, gets to bypass the reconsideration process and proceed straight to an ALJ hearing.
Once denied at hearing, claimants may then bring further administrative appeal before the agency (that is, the Social Security Administration (SSA)) by way of a Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order before the Appeals Council. A denial by the Appeals Council, however, exhausts one’s administrative options.
At the point in time of an Appeals Council denial, a Social Security disability applicant has exhausted their administrative options. It is important note that the failure to pursue further appeal of the ALJ denial at hearing will result in that decision becoming final under the doctrine of Res Judicata (which means the “matter having been decided”). Should this take place, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to bring a new claim that would succeed in providing you with benefits prior to date of the ALJ denial. There are few exceptions to this rule of finality.