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Is taking an SSDI appeal to federal court worth the effort?

There is no easy answer to the question posed here. Every Social Security Disability Insurance case is different. Individual circumstances and precedents from other cases in California and the rest of the country can be big factors in determining whether a case warrants being taken through the various levels of appeal.

Each level of action tends to be more complicated than the previous one and the time it can take to work through the different levels needs to be considered. That's why working with an experienced SSDI attorney is always recommended.

There are times when it may be worth it. Take for example the case of a woman in Pennsylvania. She has been fighting to obtain SSDI benefits since well before 2012. At various points she has met with rejection. But earlier this month, a federal judge ordered her case to be reviewed again by Social Security.

The record shows that the female claimant is a high school graduate. She had worked in various positions over time -- data entry, office worker and kennel assistant. At age 43, she began suffering intermittent, unpredictable bouts of fatigue that could last for weeks. At an administrative hearing in October 2012, she testified that she also suffers anxiety attacks and depression in crowds and even with family members. A vocational expert, testifying in response to questions from the ALJ, suggested there might other jobs the woman could perform.

In November 2012, the administrative judge ruled that the woman's impairments seem legitimate, but the judge also said the woman's testimony was "not entirely credible," so the claim was denied.

Several years and several appeals later, the case reached the federal judge, and she ruled that the woman had made her case for disability. She also said the ALJ had not considered all the available evidence in making the determination of denial.

It's too soon to say that the woman has won but she now has another chance to make her case because of the appeals process.

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Melissa A. Proudian, Attorney at Law
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Fresno, CA 93711

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