What Is a Disability Hearing?
A Social Security Disability hearing is the second appeal that you can file within the Social Security Administration’s appeal system. The first level of appeal is a Request for Reconsideration. A request for hearing follows a reconsideration denial or an only partially favorable reconsideration decision. For more information about reconsideration appeals, see our article “What Is a Social Security Request for Reconsideration?”
When and Where is a Social Security Disability Hearing Held
Hearings are usually held in person within seventy-five miles of your home. However, if you agree, your hearing might be held by video conferencing. Due to the large number of hearings filed, you will likely have to wait over a year for your hearing. When your hearing date comes up, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, which is the Social Security hearing office, will send you notification of the hearing date twenty days in advance.
How a Disability Hearing Is Different from a Reconsideration
Hearings differ from reconsideration reviews in one very important way: you get to talk to, see, and be seen by, the decision maker. This is your chance to give voice to your claim. At a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge literally hears your case. You and your attorney can not only tell the judge about your limitations but, with some illnesses, the judge can also see your limitations. Additionally, you or your attorney can submit depositions, call and question witnesses, such as your doctors, your most recent employer, and your family and friends who have direct knowledge of your limitations. You or your attorney can also cross examine witnesses, such as any vocational and medical experts that the judge may call.
Attorney Representation for the Hearing
A Social Security Disability hearing is a legal proceeding. Accordingly, it is important to have someone who is experienced in hearing procedures with you at the hearing. In addition to preparing your case for review by the Administrative Law Judge, who’s called an ALJ for short, your lawyer will explain the hearing procedure to you, orient you to the judge, and give you tips on how to participate appropriately in the hearing. He can also help you question any witnesses the ALJ may have requested. And, it is always nice not to go into unknown territory alone.
Another benefit of having an attorney is that you may not have to attend an actual hearing. Instead, depending on the facts of your claim, your attorney may request an “on-the-record” decision. This means that the lawyer writes up a summary of the information in your claim file and makes a written argument for your approval. The Administrative Law Judge then reviews the on-the-record request and, if he can approve your claim, he will go ahead with a decision. If that happens, you don’t have to go to court! If the judge does not approve your claim on the record, you will still get your hearing.
For more information about the Social Security Disability hearing process, you may find it helpful to review the rest of our articles about SSD hearings.
What If the ALJ Denies My Disability Claim
If your claim is denied at the Social Security Disability hearing, you can request review of the denial by the Appeals Council. For additional information, please see our article “What Is a Social Security Appeals Council Review and What If the Appeals Council Denies My Claim?”