There are five bases for granting AC review:
- Abuse of discretion
- Error of law
- Actions, findings or conclusions not supported by substantial evidence
- Broad policy or procedural issue
- New and material evidence submitted which was not considered.
If you believe your denial warrants an appeal, you must do so within 60 days of receiving the hearing decision. The easiest way to request an appeal is by calling Social Security at (800) 772-1213 and requesting an appeal. Or, you may complete for HA-520 and either mail or fax it to the AC. This form can be found on the SSA website. The expected time frame when filing an appeal with the Appeals Council is approximately 18-24 months, with very little to do procedurally to request a speedier decision.
Hiring an attorney is not required when filing an appeal. However, it is a good idea. Because asking for AC review requires some type of legal error, it is a good idea to find a knowledgeable attorney to review your denial and determine the merits of your appeal. Plus, if you are denied review by the AC the next step is filling a district court appeal, which will require an attorney. After consulting with an attorney you may even find that the best course of action is to file a new application.