20 CFR § 404.900 - Introduction.
(a) Explanation of the administrative review process. This subpart explains the procedures we follow in determining your rights under title II of the Social Security Act. The regulations describe the process of administrative review and explain your right to judicial review after you have taken all the necessary administrative steps. These procedures apply also to persons claiming certain benefits under title XVIII of the Act (Medicare); see 42 CFR 405.904(a)(1). The administrative review process consists of several steps, which usually must be requested within certain time periods and in the following order:
(1) Initial determination. This is a determination we make about your entitlement or your continuing entitlement to benefits or about any other matter, as discussed in § 404.902, that gives you a right to further review.
(5) Federal court review. When you have completed the steps of the administrative review process listed in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(4) of this section, we will have made our final decision. If you are dissatisfied with our final decision, you may request judicial review by filing an action in a Federal district court.
(6) Expedited appeals process. At some time after your initial determination has been reviewed, if you have no dispute with our findings of fact and our application and interpretation of the controlling laws, but you believe that a part of the law is unconstitutional, you may use the expedited appeals process. This process permits you to go directly to a Federal district court so that the constitutional issue may be resolved.
(b) Nature of the administrative review process. In making a determination or decision in your case, we conduct the administrative review process in an informal, non-adversarial manner. Subject to certain timeframes at the hearing level (see § 404.935) and the limitations on Appeals Council consideration of additional evidence (see § 404.970), we will consider at each step of the review process any information you present as well as all the information in our records. If you are dissatisfied with our decision in the review process, but do not take the next step within the stated time period, you will lose your right to further administrative review and your right to judicial review, unless you can show us that there was good cause for your failure to make a timely request for review.