When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits it is not uncommon for their initial application to be denied. This results in the need for a disability appeal. The majority of disability appeals are granted during the hearing stage of the disability appeal process. This is when the applicant’s case is heard by an administrative judge. Some applicants, however, are denied during the hearing stage of appeals and must appeal their case further and file a suit in the circuit court of appeals.
If a case is filed with the circuit court of appeals, the court has the right to overrule the SSA’s decision to deny the disability claim. When the SSA’s decision is overruled and the SSA agrees to follow the circuit court’s ruling, it is referred to as an acquiescence ruling. The ruling may be contrary to the SSA’s policy, but because the court ruled in the applicant’s favor, the SSA will need to award disability benefits to the individual who won the case.
Acquiescence rulings can be used by other disability applicants to obtain disability benefits in the future. When filing an appeal, a past acquiescence ruling can be referenced if your case is similar to the case associated with the acquiescence ruling.
It is important to note that an acquiescence ruling does not change Social Security Disability policy. This means that applicants who are facing the same obstacles in their Social Security Disability cases will not automatically receive disability benefits due to an acquiescence ruling. A good disability lawyer will, however, cite the ruling when appearing before an administrative law judge at a disability hearing.