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Social Security & Elder Law Research Guide: Social Security Hearings, Decisions & Appeals

The Administrative Review Process

The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes initial determinations about whether individual claimants are eligible for Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments.

If a claimant is dissatistfied, the claimant may file a request for reconsideration. Claimants who disagree with the SSA's reconsideration determination may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

If the claimant receives an adverse decision from the ALJ, the claimant may request a review by the Appeals Council.

Claimants who are dissatisfied with a decision from the Appeals Council may file an action in federal district court.

The SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) holds hearings, issues decisions, and reviews appeals regarding claimants' entitlement to benefits.

SSA Resources

Social Security and Acquiescence Rulings

Social security rulings are precedential decisions related to SSA programs. They are published in the "Notices" section of the Federal Register and are effective upon publication. While they do not have the force of law granted to statutes or regulations, they are binding on all components of the SSA.

Acquiescence rulings are explanations of how the SSA will apply decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeals that are at variance with SSA national policy. They arre also published in the Federal Register and effective upon publication. Acquiescence rulings do not have the force of law, but are binding on all components of the SSA.