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What is a Social Security Disability hearing, and what can I expect when I request a disability hearing?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  161 Comments

Find out about hearing-level appeals, what to expect at a Social Security Disability Hearing, and how lawyers for Social Security Disability can help.

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Watch the Video: “What is a Social Security Disability hearing, and what can I expect when I request a disability hearing?”

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?”

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  • Published: 6 months ago on March 3, 2016
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  • Last Modified: March 4, 2016 @ 4:04 pm
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161 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    Hello I got a question I had my hearing for disability on the 12th of august I had a lawyer my case was I have anxiety bipolar explosive disorder depression idk if I got approved yet how do you know my lawyer said I have a good chance I also submitted my old school records he said that will help my case

  2. virginia says:

    hi Kay, My lawyer filed for a request for a hearing in Nov. 3, 2015 when will I have a hearing.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Virginia,

      The length of a wait for a hearing varies from state to state and office to office–usually twelve to twenty-four months. You can look up average wait time for your office at https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • jojo says:

      i was sent by the judge for a medical ce , doctor stated he was putting down spinal stenosis and that i must be carefull not to fall get into any kind of accidents due to the severity of my neck issues my lawyer told me i was 99 percent to win now after seeing there doctor and his comments i think its 100 percent . do the case evaluaters usually tell you what there putting down just curious was assigned judge still waiting for court date

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Jojo,

        Many, if not most, examiners do not tell the claimant what will be in their reports.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  3. Priscilla Velez says:

    Hello,
    I had an alj hearing on June 13, 2016. How long does it take for a decision? My attorney said the hearing went well and that she thinks that I am approved. Can an attorney tell if someone may be approved?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Priscilla,

      Experienced attorneys have a good idea of how a hearing went, so there is no reason to doubt her opinion. However, there is no way to know for sure until you get the decision letter.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  4. karen says:

    Dear Kay, I contacted the hearing office the lady I spoke to said my claim has been accepted as a critical case to be exspadited. She then said your file is still with that Judge that granted it but she didn’t know why he still has it this long because you have been assigned to a judge for hearing but no date. Just wanted to know what this could mean

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Karen,

      The information you received could mean that the judge just hasn’t gotten to your appeal yet or it could mean that he is reviewing it to see whether he can approve your claim on the record (OTR) without a hearing.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • karen says:

        Good morning Kay. I spoke with the same lady in the hearing office that told me my claim was assigned to a judge . She now told me my claim has a hearing date and she told me its in October and the time but I won’t get a letter probably til the dates closer . My question is even though there’s a date can a chance for otr still happen ? I did ask her but she said she didn’t think so because I have an attorney I don’t know what she meant by that . My anxiety and depression is really bad right now.the only time im really leaving the house is to go to doctor appointments. I think my anxiety is starting to kick in bad because the thought of going in front of a judge . I have only been in front of a judge when my daughter was younger for child support that was 20 years ago . My memory Focus concentration and to listen is really bad right now I’m so afraid I’m not going to answer questions right if he asked me any questions . My doctor completed my mrfc form I’m hoping the judge will see on the form what kind of problems I have before he talks to me so he understands I have problems with comprehension. Thank you Kay for all your answers to my questions .

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Karen,

          If your attorney did not submit a request for an on-the-record decision and a hearing date has been set, it is likely you will have the hearing. I suggest that you discuss your anxiety and concerns about the hearing with your attorney. It is okay to say during the hearing that you are feeling very stressed and having trouble thinking–understanding and relating information–if that turns out to be the case.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  5. Lynnette says:

    hello I had a level one hearing for my daughter who is developmentally delayed and intellectual disability and add and adhd. they cut off her benefits and I never recieved a denial letter. I called social
    Security and that’s when they told me she is not receiving her benefits for aug 2016 I then went in to the social security office to file appeal and let them know I never ever recieved that denial letter And we need her benefit for her care and for bills living expense they told it it was too late and told me I have to wait for a judge to view case or see one I also wrote a dire need of income letter because that is not right to cut off the benefit and I never recieved a letter to appeal what do I do I am stressed and we do not have much and I supplied all documentation of her disability and she is also being kept back in the third grade and she is ten. I try asking them out her benefit back on while we wait they said no because of it being after 10 days and I said I never recieved that letter they said was sent out in May I never got it.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lynnette,

      The ten days should begin the date you were verbally told that her benefits were being terminated. If you initiated the appeal within ten days of finding out her benefits were to stop, she should be eligible for provisional benefits while the appeal is pending. Go to the office and ask to speak to a supervisor; then ask for continued benefits because you appealed within ten days of notice.

      If this is unsuccessful, check to see if your daughter and/or your family is eligible for any temporary services through the state. Attorneys usually take termination cases only if benefits have been stopped, so you may be able to get an attorney to help with your appeal. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  6. Lisa Mathews says:

    Dear Kay;

    I applied for SSDI December 2013. One of the disabilities is CRPS from 2011. Recently the ALJ requested medical records from April 2012, as that is the date I said I became disabled.

    I have not gone to my Neurologist in about a year, as they stated several times that there is no chance for recovery & that I could not have any additional surgeries. The Neurologist had told me to file for Disability a few times prior to my filing & after.

    Since I was told that there was no chance for recovery & I stopped going, would that reflect poorly on me to the ALJ? I would hope not, since the diagnosis was no hope.

    Thank you,
    Lisa

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lisa,

      “No chance of recovery” would mean that if your condition is severe enough to be disabling as defined by Social Security law, your benefits would continue indefinitely.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  7. Angela says:

    Hi Kay I called again today and was told my descision was mailed out last week from Baltimore! Why from Baltimore? I’m in Georgia?? Any clues??

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Angela,

      Most Social Security Disability benefits are paid from the Baltimore payment center.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Kimberly says:

        Hi, my 7 year old son had a hearing 6/23/16. The alj questioned my son, asking him do he frequently get in trouble at school? Does his teacher call mom a lot? And do he pay attention in class. My son’s response was yes to everything except for paying attention in class, his response was sometimes. There was only the alj, a court reporter, myself, my son and my disability advocate present. The alj asked had my son been under care long with his psychiatrist. I said yes. He said he has read all of the teachers emails and the my case had a lo of info. I wonder if my son will be denied? He has asd, adhd, and a conduct disorder. He’s on a kindergarten grade level and has speech, occupational therapy, special ed services and is receiving homebased therapy due to his behavior. What do you think?

  8. Angela says:

    Hi Kay it’s me with one more question, I had been checking my ssi webpage daily to try and get a clue of the outcome of my case, as of yesterday it still said cannot calculate benefits because I had applied for ssi, however today it was normal saying what I could receive if I retired at the 3 ages if I continued making X amount of money per year, and how much I could get for disability etc etc, this means I am denied doesn’t it?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Angela,

      I suggest that you call your local office for accurate information regarding the status of the two claims. Based on what people report, I am not confident that the online informational updates display consistently as related to medical approvals and denials.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  9. Angela says:

    I had my hearing June 7 2016, the judge only asked one hypothetical question, and the ve said no jobs, she then ended the hearing and it only lasted about 15 minutes, any ideas if I will get approved or not?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Angela,

      I expect your claim to be approved. If it is not, you may have grounds for appeal because you were not allowed to testify and present what you wanted to.

      If you have to appeal and don’t have an attorney, I recommend hiring an experienced Social Security attorney because the rules for filing an Appeals Council review are very specific. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  10. Katie says:

    Hi Kay I just had my hearing the judge took opening statements from my lawyer and then asked me a few questions about my work history, education, and etc. He did request a VE to be at my hearing and The VE was there on the phone. However after questioning me he asked my lawyer for a closing statement. He never asked the VE any questions!. I came out of the hearing very confused!. Do you have any theories?. I have kidney issues, heart issues, foot problems, I have a intelletcual disability.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Katie,

      It is likely that your appeal will be approved. If it is not, your attorney will have good grounds to appeal because vocational testimony was not obtained.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  11. Brandon Lawson says:

    Can you work while waiting for the disability hearing? Will it affect the judges decision?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Brandon,

      If you have an attorney, get the attorney’s guidance as related to your specific case.

      In general, I can say that the exact impact will depend on how long you were off work before you return to work and how much you earn. Return to work within twelve months of the date the judge establishes as your disability onset date could have a negative impact if you earn $1,130 gross or more. If you return to work after twelve months of established disability, the work likely will be treated as a trial work period month if you earn at least $810 gross and benefits would continue. You do need to report the work if you are approved by the judge or sooner if you have not been off work for twelve months.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  12. Eve says:

    I had my hearing yesterday. It lasted about one hour. My judge commented several times that I had a very good lawyer. The VE answered no when asked if I could do my prior job. Then gave some options, but with caveats. He also assigned a score of 8 (?). After we were done and off the record the judge dismissed me, but kept my attorney after for about 2-3 minutes. She said the hearing went very well, when we talked after. The judge also commented that I had approx 1500 pages of medical records. He said I should hear within 8 weeks or so, but mentioned he usually writes long decisions (15-20 pages)…

    I was really confused , happy, but confused that he commented that I had a really good lawyer. And also confused why he had the attny stay behind. Now I’m getting anxious waiting for the decision. Hoping those were all good signs!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Eve,

      It is not uncommon for a judge to talk with an attorney after the hearing. I am not certain about the significance of all of the judge’s comments except that he seemed to be explaining why it would take eight weeks for you to get a decision. You don’t say what the options and caveats were, so I can’t comment on them. In general, there seems to be subtle indications of an approval; however, I suggest that ask your attorney about his or her opinion.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Eve says:

        Thank you. The caveats were that there were very few jobs and he said they were an 8 on the scale (so i think that means more than simple training?). The judge only asked one hypothetical. My attorney Said the judge is very thorough. She said she feels it likely he will rule in my favor. He’s just one with a lower approval percentage, but he dismisses a fair percentage too (30%). My attorney says I answered everything really well (I guess I wasn’t rambling like I thought.). I also wasn’t sure how to interpret the comment he made saying that they already determined I couldn’t do a physical job, and this was to see about a desk job. Which is what I had been doing, that the VE said No to. I’m just a bit anxious and trying not to obsess about the details. :) the judge was very kind at the end and said that he hoped I would get help that I needed for things (anxiety, depression that I’m having issues even getting to see someone (therapist, not md) about, because of the anxiety.

  13. tanya brown says:

    I have a hearing next month does the rfc statement from doctor stating disabilities help the case. Just wondering if i should pay to get it if it will nake a difference or not.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tanya,

      A residual functional capacities (RFC) assessment that shows significant limitations can help your claim if the doctor completing the RFC states the clinical basis for his or her opinion of your limitations.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  14. tanya brown says:

    I have a hearing next month and my lawyer still hasnt obtaibed my medical records i let them no i couldnt afford them is it true the lawyer will suponea records. Also they want my docredor feeling out form stating my limitations which they charge $175 for which i cant afford without that do you think my case still gas a chance.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tanya,

      You need to get the form completed and the records obtained and submitted. Talk to your lawyer about paying for them. If you are approved, you can use some of your back pay to pay the attorney for his or her out-of-pocket expenses. If you are not approved, perhaps they would agree to a repayment plan for the records and form to pay a small amount over several months.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  15. Terry says:

    Hello. I am wondering if you think I’ll get approved for disability? I’m waiting for court date since Dec14,2014. I hired a lawyer. I have bipolar combined type,adhd combined type, severe depression, anxiety,ptsd. I also was hit by a car in 2007 and had to have brain surgery. I’m 2015 my neurologist did an mri and diagnosed me with chronic encephelmalasia/gliosis of the front left lobe and is 100% impossible to exclude the right love.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Terry,

      It is possible that you could be approved, but I can’t say for sure. The fact that an attorney took your case indicates that there is a reasonable chance.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Karen says:

      What does a unfavorable denial means to me when I have a light work limited movement. Help me. Please. I am homeless and helpless

      • Karen says:

        What does a unfavorable denial means to me when I have a light work limited movement. Help me. Please. I am homeless and helpless. I am putting a appeal in. Do you believe i will win this time

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Karen,

        An unfavorable decision means your claim was denied. If you are able to work in light or sedentary occupations that you are qualified for, you are not disabled according to Social Security law. If you think you cannot work in any occupation, you can appeal the decision as long as you do it within sixty days.

        If might be helpful to discuss your claim with an experienced Social Security attorney to get an opinion on whether an appeal could be successful. If an attorney takes your case, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  16. cat says:

    Hi Kay,

    Thanks so much for this site.

    I’ve heard quite a few stories from people who arrived at their hearings and discovered some of their medical records were missing (even though they had lawyers).

    Am I correct in understanding that someone can call ODAR themselves before a hearing and the person at ODAR will be able to confirm which files are there?

    How long before a hearing would it be best to make this call?

    If a lawyer submits something, is it guaranteed to make it into your file? I have heard stories of files being left out by file clerks. How does this happen?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Cat,

      Nothing can ever be 100% guaranteed. Asking ODAR for a list of the medical records in file including the start and end date for the records is a good idea. I’d suggest three months before the hearing and then later for records submitted after the date of your first inquiry.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  17. Ga man says:

    Hi Kay I had my son hearing 4/5/16 do u think that he will get approved he is 15 his IQ is 66 he do have a IEP and he have ADHD he not on his grade level he had been retained twice reading on a second grade level the judge was very nice I kno a 66 IQ is mental retardation so do think if we have a good Chance

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ga Man,

      Your son has a good chance of being approved for SSI disability.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Ga man says:

        Dear Kay wat it mean when my son ssi case is being editing

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Ga Man,

          I cannot find correspondence between us that references “editing.” Perhaps you used a different online name. If you would like to explain what you are referring to, I will try to respond.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  18. Chris says:

    I just got out of my hearing…… The VE agreed with my limitaions and did not try to say jobs that I might be able to still do. The judge from the beginning kind and warmly smiled at me the whole time. When my lawyer and I walked out HE said that it went very well. The judge very compassionately stated she would put her decision in ASAP when she receives some final medical documents we were not able to get in.
    My lawyer also felt my chances were very good that my onset date would not be bargained tobe pushed up.
    So what is your gut feelings and reaction to the way this went for me. Thank you so much for any help :)

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Chris,

      As you describe the hearing, I would say that you have a good chance of approval, maybe with the original claimed date of disability.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  19. Ruth Carter says:

    Hi Kay,

    My spouse has Renal failure now and the judge is offering him disability based on this date 12/2015 vs his initial claim date 4/2014. He has been out on LTD since then. Do you think it is worth fighting for the original date and going through a hearing? Does that make a difference in terms of your dependents and their retro pay? Please advise Thanks

    • Ruth Carter says:

      FYI The original date was based on severe depression due to chronic illnesses. (Uncontrolled Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure, ED, Stress)

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Carter,

      Assuming your husband is still insured in December 2015, a disability date of December 2015 will result in benefits starting to accrue for him and his dependents in June 2016, payable in July. There would be no back pay. An April 2014 disability date would result in benefits beginning October 2014.

      From what you wrote, I assume that your husband has not had a hearing and the judge is offering an approval without a hearing if your husband accepts the later disability date.

      Only you and your husband can decide whether you want to go to the trouble of pursuing the earlier onset date. In trying to decide, consider whether either his health got worse in December and/or whether there is little medical documentation earlier. Also consider whether your husband would have been able to work in a different occupation between April 2014 and December 2015. If he has an attorney, of course, consider the attorney’s opinion.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ruth,

      With an established disability date of December 2015, your husband’s benefits and dependent benefits will begin to accrue June 2015 with no back pay. With an April 2014 disability date, benefits will begin to accrue with October 2014.

      Only you and your husband can decide what is the best course of action for you. If possible, I suggest that your husband discuss the situation with an experienced Social Security attorney. I assume from what you wrote that the judge offered approval on the record without a hearing. I read you other post regarding illnesses before December. If your husband was seeing a mental health professional for the depression and there is documentation regarding how severe it was, he might have a possibility of being approved earlier based on that or based on a combination of conditions. He must prove that he was not physically and/or mentally able to work in any occupation that he would otherwise been able to perform given his education, transferable skills from prior work, and his age.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  20. Jae says:

    I applied for disability back in 2013 when I had an entire host of diseases, including pancreatitis as a result of my doctor ignoring a year of gall bladder disease, obesity, uncontrolled high pressure, osteoarthritis, other degenerative disc disease, hypothyroidism, depression, metabolic cluster disease, asthma, diabetes, and the very beginning stages of diabetes-related neuropathy. Apart from all else, the interaction from the oxycodone for pain and the metformin for diabetes made even driving a problem. I am currently 56 years old.

    The State office determined I WAS cognitively disabled due to my mediation interactions alone (I just discovered this). Apparently, Social Security disagreed.

    I have a really wonderful attorney — an “old world” gentleman, very mild mannered, very competent knowledge of regulations and how they play out, very much liked by judges, it appears (he was a CALPers attorney to begin with and a ‘star’ in the office as far as I can see, as he was frequently called to handle precedent-setting cases — I saw three of them and he won them all. In addition, the judge went out of his way to talk about what a pleasure it had been to work with such a courteous and well-informed attorney. My attorney is wonderful.

    In 2014, I had gastric bypass. Consequently, my ailments ALL disappeared within the first eight months after surgery, except the degenerative disc disease. I can tell by the fact that my arthritis no longer pains my knee, that even my arthritis is gone. However, and I understand that one never knows what going into surgery will do to other existing back problems, but the degenerative disc disease has gotten worse.

    I am currently taking 240 mg of oxycodone every 28 days for the pain. I also take valium and soma to relax my back. I AM looking for parttime work, since one oxycodone when I get up will usually alleviate my pain and keep me functional for four hours. My doctor agrees but insists she does not want me to try working more than that. I did go ahead and take a six hour per day job, and I had to quit in less than a week. Getting home, standing up on lite rail for 45 minutes a day was torture. I had to start taking my meds at work and I could tell that it was impacting my judgement and my memory.

    In the meantime, my attorney modified the request for disability to request a closed period of disability, based on the court’s decision, and also an ongoing period of disability to ensure that I can go back to work (once I work up to fulltime I have an equivalent job to my last one waiting for me. It is a relatively high level and high paying job — I have a Master’s Degree).

    We went to court about two years after filing in December of 2015. My attorney and I were both thrilled with the judge’s questions, and the vocational expert’s responses. Specifically, my doctor was adamant (and rightfully so) that my disability would manifest itself at least four times a month (it is at its worse at night. Sometimes, even with pain meds, I am, literally, up all night with the pain, and out of my head with the pain and the pain meds the next morning. The vocational expert was adamant that this constituted 100 percent disability, despite some rather rough questioning by the judge (this was a video conference).

    I should add here that the degenerative disc disease is almost certainly a result of bad surgery. My doctors won’t admit it, but they don’t deny it, and I never had the problem until I went in to get a 9 cm by 9 cm lipoma removed from my back. My treating physician refused to touch it or refer me to a surgeon because it was “all snarled up in my spinal cord.” His words. But the lipoma had to be removed — it was causing me great pain. And I was never pain free again after the surgery. Never.

    At any rate, my attorney and I were very pleased with the hearing. I answered honestly and clearly; for example, I talked about walking 2 miles a day. I tried to explain that I did it regularly except on days when I couldn’t sleep or was having very bad pain. The Judge indicated that she just wanted a yes or not answer as to whether I walked regularly now. A couple things like this bothered me; I thought the judge didn’t understand the grey areas.

    She found unfavorably for me. My attorney has never been so angry. First of all, she admitted that I was substantially disabled before my bypass surgery in 2014 but was not now (thus, indicating that she did not at all understand the concept of a closed period of disabilty).

    She then said that her own vocational expert was wrong. She overrode his opinion and substituted her own — that I was capable of being out several days a month and retaining my job.

    She said that it appeared I had gone on vacation at some point recently, and she questioned the fact that I could vacation but not work. This is simply untrue. Somehow it must have made it into the record that I was invited to Hawaii to stay at a friend’s condo, but was unable to go. She used this a reason to deny me also.

    She then implied that I was lying, saying I was trying to work but still asking for disability, again indicating her ignorance of disability law. Per my attorney, in his response, parttime work does not constitute ability to work.

    These are only a couple of the “prejudicial and reversable’ errors my attorney found and submitted in his response. The judge also cherry picked my doctors, going out of her way to denigrate my treating doctor’s opinion (this doctor saved my life. I am convinced of that), and the specialists who agreed with her. She found the CALPers specialist (my attorney stated that she wasn’t even supposed to be looking at what they said as they were judging me for CalPers not Social Security — two completely different standards). So not only did she wrongfully use these attorneys but actually stated that she gave them ‘greater weight” than the specialists who agreed with my doctor, because the Calpers doctor’s had a “longitudinal’ relationship that the other doctors didn’t have.

    My attorney was especially outraged by this, as I only saw the CalPers doctors once each. The second doctor not only didn’t examine me for any of the issues we were requesting consideration on, but stated that he did not look at any of the medical records! Yet she gave his statement more weight than my own doctors!

    We have appealed, of course, but it seems to me that the judge was so out of line that there should be some way to obtain a second look at what she saw and her decisions based on what she saw.

    My attorney told me to dress down and I did. I didn’t wear sweats because that seemed disrespectful to the court, but I did wear jeans and a blouse. I tied my hair back in a ponytail and wore no make-up. Because I only had taken one pain pill, I was quite articulate — it would have been a very different example, it it happened to be one of the nights I was up all night, trying to kill the main with meds and unable to sleep!

    My attorney finally said that he was worried about something like this happening. He said that I am too attractive and too articulate and judges often don’t see past that. He said he had another client once with the same problem, and her decision was reversed on appeal. He said he had worried about this and that was why he had advised me to ‘dress down.” I’m 56 for God’s sake. I’ve been through hell physically. The way I look is the least of my concerns right now, and it seems it should be to the judge as well. As I said, I have a Master’s Degree — it stands to reason I’m somewhat articulate. Again, I don’t believe I should be punished by that — if my court trial was yesterday, for example, she’d have been hard put to find me coherent, let alone articulate!

    But, it was clear that something other than the facts was driving the judge’s decision, and this does not seem right. Nor does it seem right that I now have to wait another two years to possibly have yet another judge find my appearance and answers off-putting. Isn’t there something that could be done to have this judge’s rulings looked at by a objective source before then?

  21. Tam says:

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD three yrs ago he is 7yrs old now he has been on several different medications and his dr., has up his medication. I applied for SSI for him and was denied the first time I appealed it and was denied again. I got a lawyer last year and finally I got a court hearing we went to court on 3/28/2016 I’m not sure how it went. The judge questioned my son asked him a few questions the judge had to tell him twice not to hit the chair against the table, after talking to my son she ask did I want him to stay while she question me and I said no because he would interrupt our conversation so they let him go…I explained to her how he acts up in school and how I get phone calls all most everyday to come get him but the school suppose to have a plan in place for when he act up but they always call me to come get him, I also told the judge that I take him out of school some days to give the teachers a break from his behavior…she ask could he sit down and watch T.V. for a long period of time and I said no, I also told her that he do not get alone with ppl and he always start fights at school, and at the daycare. I also told her that he is in the 1st grade but he is not on a first grade reading level and the teachers are working with him to see if they can get him on his correct level by the end of the school year. Do you think that I will get denied again

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tam,

      I cannot predict the outcome of your appeal. If you haven’t already, you might quickly submit documentation from the school of the number of days he was sent home and the number of days he was absent and a copy of his special plan.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  22. Aaron says:

    In September 2015 i have received papers saying they want to do an otr decision before scheduling a court date. I have not heard from anyone in almost 120 days. I have also sent in an RFC form from my primary care physician What is an otr decision and how long do i have to wait to hear something back from them?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Aaron,

      An on-the-record (OTR) decision is an approval rendered without a hearing. You should have received the written decision within approximately sixty days of the date on the letter notifying you of the OTR decision. I suggest that you call the hearing office to determine the status of the appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  23. Jason says:

    Hello, I just had my hearing today I’m not sure how it went to be honest, my lawyer said six to eight weeks for a desicion. Is this how long it usually takes and here is the thing I’ve suffer from severe anxiety, depression, and constant pain and I’m the age of 33 my lawyer was also saying they don’t like to approve younger people is this true? And can you offer any comfort about your thought of how a decision could turn out?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jason,

      It does typically take six to eight weeks or longer for a written decision. It is harder to be approved when you are young because, on an average, younger people have more employment options within their limitations than people late in their work lives. That said, if your conditions, limitations and restrictions are well-documented and they are severe enough to keep you from working, approval is possible.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  24. Mike says:

    Dear Kay I am in the process of an OTR , I also have a hearing date set already. Now, I have just received a letter from odar saying a VE and a ME will appear at the hearing. My question is does this mean they aren’t going to grant my OTR and they’re going to go ahead with the hearing.I am diagnosed with epilepsy and have medical source statements to back it up from a neurologist that says I meet listing 11.03! Thanks Mike

  25. sean says:

    I was put on anti depressants at 16, I am now 30 and have had over 50 jobs Because of attendance problems, now the med that I started I can no longer take. I’ve had 7 jobs so far this year, been denied twice, any suggestions
    ? I have a video hearing coming up if I’m denied will I be able to Reaply? Would I also loose back pay?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sean,

      My advice is to get an attorney to help you with the hearing. If you proceed on your own, be prepared to explain why you miss work and get fired.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  26. alicia says:

    Hi, I have 2 sons with high functioning autism. The first i applied and got approved right away and got a check in the mail before i even got an approval letter. My second son I applied a year ago, got denied, then did the reconsideration and got denied so I requested a hearing. I recieved a package in the mail to review his records because the judge wants to make a decision without having me come in for a hearing. I reviewed the records and sent them back on time along with a letter of how my son has been and notes for Early intervention to back up the behaviors that I explained in the letter. This was almost 4 months ago. I have not heard back from the judge about if a decision has been made and when I call the ssi office in my area they just say that I am waiting on a hearing date. When I explain that I got a letter stating the wants to make a decision OTR, they don’t have anything to say to me. What should I do now. I have been waiting 13 months now since I first applied.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Alicia,

      The judge apparently thought that with the requested information, he could approve your son’s claim on the record without a hearing. I suggest that you call the hearing office to ask for a status. The hearing office can tell you where the appeal is in the process–still awaiting the judge’s review of the records or possibly in the decision-letter writing phase.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  27. Hello, my son was denied twice, now we have a date set for a video conference. How long will the video conference last?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Shawtoca,

      Hearing can last any length of time from less than thirty minutes to an hour or more.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Mx. Nathan Tamar Pautz says:

      I had asked an attorney in a nearby state if he would take my case, but he said it is better to use an attorney in your home state because they are familiar with the local judges. He referred me to an attorney in my area, but I didn’t find that one acceptable, because he said I should just go ahead and file and then come to him after I am denied. I need legal help throughout the entire process, starting with the application. Not all attorneys do this. I am wondering, if I should use an out-of-state attorney, where wouid the hearing take place? Does it take place in the state where the attorney practices, or in your own state of residence? Does it matter where it takes place? I ask this, because if should I find a suitable attorney out-of-state, I would be more than willing to travel to that state for the hearing; in that case, the attorney would know the judges of their area.

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Nathan,

        Usually a hearing is held in proximity to the claimant, not the attorney, and the attorney travels. However, you would have to be denied twice before you would need a hearing. If you need help filing the application and presenting evidence for your claim and you can find an out-of-state attorney who is willing to do help, you could choose to do that because the issue of a hearing may never come up. (The reason attorneys often do not help with initial claims is that they get paid from a percentage of your back benefits. If the claim is approved very early in disability, there could be little or no back pay or compensation for them.)

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  28. Tanya says:

    My 12 year old son is going through the reconsideration process now. I just received an appointment for a hearing. When he was younger he was diagnosed with ADHD, delayed speech and also asthma. He has doctors that he goes to on a regular basis and also medications he take daily. My question is why is he having to go through this when he still is under doctors care for his condition?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tanya,

      Being under a doctor’s care and taking medications does not necessarily mean that a person is disabled. Your child has to be evaluated to determine whether his conditions so severely interfere with his functioning that he can be considered disabled.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  29. D says:

    Kay,
    Had my SS Disability hearing today. Not sure how I feel the judge will decide yes/no.
    I am a 46 year old male. I had total colectomy back in 2000-2001. I finished working in the PD at a desk job as my boss kept me inside due to frequent bowel movements. I retired in 2010 and tried to work as a grounds keeper but was diagnosed with Pituitary brain tumor. I have had 15 surgeries, have 15-20 bowel movements per day, have fatigue, muscle and bone pain due to brain surgery. I have not worked for 4+ years and three of my doctors have stated in their reports I can not sit, stand, work without a break of 20-30 minutes or more everyday not including missing a day or more per week.
    Question is, dies judge base his decision more on Drs or their own opinion? The judge never brought up my bowel issues, though my attorney did when the VE recommended 3 jobs. Feel like the judge was looking for an excuse for me to work and did not care about the issues with my bowels. Such a long, stressful process.
    Thanks,
    D

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear D.,

      The judge is supposed to review all the evidence submitted with your claim and appeals including testimony given at the hearing, judge whether the testimony was credible, and then compare all the information to Social Security law; so, no, the decision rests on more than an opinion.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  30. Angela says:

    I had my hearing on June 8, 2015 and I’ve still not received a decision on my case. My claim was filed in December of 2012. I have an attorney who has been involved since day one. On the day of my hearing my attorney said I should receive a letter in 6-8 weeks stating the judges decision. It’s now past that and today the social security hearing office said it could take 3-5 months from the day of the hearing to receive a decision. Is there any law/s that state the amount of time the judge has to make a decision and/or how long from the hearing until I’m notified of the decision? My attorney said that the 6-8 weeks is what’s topical but not always the case. Any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks!!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Angela,

      The guideline is for judge’s to render a decision within sixty days of the hearing, although it can take longer. There is no “law” per se. From informal observation, I would say most decisions are received within three months.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  31. August Washington says:

    HI KAY I WAS DIGNOSED WITH DJD JOINT DISEASE AND LUMBAR L5-S1 FOR MY BACK AND I HAVE CARPAL TUNNEL IN LEFT HAND I WAS DENIED SO I GOT AN LAWYER NOW I RECEIVED A LETTER SAYING IF I WANTED A VIDEO CONFERENCE WHAT DOES THAT MEAN I HAVENT SPOKEN TO MY ATTORNEY YET.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear August,

      The letter was asking you whether you want to have your hearing in person with the judge or you are willing to have the hearing where you and the judge see each other and communicate electronically from different towns. Be sure to discuss this with your attorney before signing anything.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  32. Heidi says:

    I have PTSD, depression, anxiety, hypotyroid, diabetes, neuropathy and obesity. I was initially denied for disability, so I got a lawyer, had an appeal, went to SSN doctor’s, denied again. I am now waiting for a hearing, that was filed in March, how long on average does this take? I am living off of nothing.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Heidi,

      The usual wait for a hearing date is about a year, sometimes a bit more.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  33. Claudia says:

    Kay,

    I am 30 yrs old, mother of two. In 2010 I was diagnosed with plantar fascitis. My insurance was cut off so I couldn’t attend therapy as the doctor recommended. I got my insurance back in 2014 and I wish I hadn’t. The doctor I went to found other issues such as nueropathy, depression, chronic back pain, arthritis, acid reflux. I am on 6 different meds and have been out of work since July 2012 because of my medical issues. I can not perform duties at any job I apply for. I have been denied and awaiting my hearing date which was sad to be January 2016. It’s a frustrating process, very depressing because I worked for the age of 16 to 27. Now I can not hold a simple job at a fast food restaurant or desk job because my standing and sitting is very limited. I do not have a lawyer and I’m starting to think that’s not a good idea. I stay on top of everything and send records every time I go to the doctor. My question for you is what job could I possibly get that will allow me to be doped up on meds all day to relieve pain so that I can provide for my two children? The reason for denying me was because I could find a job that didn’t require me to use my back and feet. Impossible because driving is even a difficult task. I’ve been in several accidents because I was too scared to take my meds and didn’t want to pass out driving but I ended up hitting cars in front of me because my legs and feet would lock up. I want to live and be safe.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Claudia,

      I suggest that you hire an experienced Social Security attorney now while there is time for the attorney to acquaint him or herself with the claim and prepare an argument for the hearing. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you.

      Another idea is that while you pursue your Social Security, you contact your state’s department of vocational rehabilitation to see if you qualify for retraining into work you might be able to do. If you are turned down because of your health, you can present that evidence at your hearing

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Claudia says:

        Kay,

        I have contacted a couple of lawyers, a very well known attorney told me he would not take my case but I have a consultation with another lawyer August 11. I hope they take my case and I win. Being out of work 3 years is very stressful and depressing. Also I was told they would charge 25% or $6,000 is that possible? My understanding was that the judge or social security sets the few based on what I would be receiving in back pay.

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Claudia,

          Social Security law allows the attorney to be paid 25% of back pay up to a limit of $6,000. For example, if your back pay is $30,000, the fee would be $6,000; if the back pay is $8,000, the attorney would be paid $2,000.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Annie says:

            Is this based on just the back pay for the person filling or for the back pay for their dependants as well?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Annie,

            I am not sure what you are referring to when you say “this.” If you wish to clarify, I will respond.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Annie says:

            By this I mean the 25% contingency pay. Is it just the money going to the person filing or does it also include back payment for their dependants?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Annie,

            Dependent benefits are also ubject to attorney fees.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Claudia says:

            Hello Kay,

            I took your advice and seeked a lawyer unfortunately nobody was willing to take my case. Surprisingly the day I went to see the last lawyer I received my hearing date in the mail which is set for Oct 27,2015. I was told months ago that I wouldn’t probably hear anything until Jan/Feb. Is this a possibly good sign? I have been diagnosed with other things since my last post and have submitted that evidence. I have been continusly looking for work but denied do to incapabilities and request for limited hours.

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Claudia,

            It is fortunate that you got a hearing date earlier than anticipated, but it is not a sign of the outcome of your appeal. It is good that you submitted updated medical information.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

      • Claudia says:

        Hello Kay,

        Well I had my hearing on Oct 27, 2015 and the ve provided two jobs I may be able to work but the judge asked would I be able to take additional unannounced breaks, or miss 2-3 a week for appts and still keep my job, the ve he answered no it is not possible. Then the judge simply stated I would hear from her in 2-3 weeks. It went fairly fast (15 mins tops). I know you can’t tell me if that is a good sign of a favorable decision but my question is…….is 2-3 weeks a possible time frame to hear a decision in your opinion?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Claudia,

          If the judge and the hearing office letter preparation department is caught up on decisions, it is possible that you could get a decision that fast; but I wouldn’t count on it.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Claudia says:

            Kay,

            I was very shocked when she said in should hear something in 2-3 weeks. One thought made me think it was possible being it was via video and the ODAR is out of St Louis and not my home town where they are always backed up. I guess back to the waiting game I go. As always thank you for your help. :-)

          • Kay Derochie says:

            You are welcome, Claudia.

  34. LeJoy says:

    Waiting for reconsideration decision, but researching next step since so many get denied their first appeal. My husband has IBD that is not well controlled at this point (14 months so far) and he is unable work. Theoretically if the doctors find a med that does help and he is able to work before he were to get a hearing (which is possible considering it takes a long time) then would the judge just deny it and too bad about the years he couldn’t work?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lejoy,

      If your husband is found to have been disabled for twelve months, his claim will be approved. If he returns to work before the hearing, he could be awarded benefits based on a closed (limited) period of disability with no ongoing benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • LeJoy says:

        Thank you. It’s much more difficult than I thought to find info on disability.

        • Kay Derochie says:

          You are welcome, Lejoy.

          • LeJoy says:

            We are now waiting for his hearing which I know will take about a year. I have developed a condition covered by disability. If I apply and get disability before his hearing does that affect his ability to get disability? Also my condition will last a year but should improve. Is switching from me being the main person to him an issue?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Lejoy,

            Your husband’s and your Social Security Disability claims will be evaluated separately.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

  35. Kristy V says:

    The judge requested to keep the record open for 30 days. He stated he wanted more details from my therapist. At the end of my interview, he stated,”I find you sincere and sweet”.
    Anyways, why would a judge keep the record open?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kristy,

      The judge is keeping the record open for the reasons he said: to get more information from your therapist so that he can make a decision on your appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  36. Jasmine Wollsperger says:

    Would it be to my advantage to have witnesses at my ALJ Hearing?
    All of whom have known me for many many years? Will the Judge ask them questions or can they ask to speak to testify and validate my Medical condition?

    I have no attorney as I am not able to afford the fees, even with the services SSA can provide, once I win my case ,I would have to pay and can not afford to, as I need all the income to sustain mysef.
    I have submitted all documentations, medical records, etc with the help of my Physicians without the use of an attorney.There would be nothing an Attorney would have to research or request from my Physicians as they have all been very supportive and eager to assist me.
    Thanks for your input!
    Jasmine

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jasmine,

      You have the right to call witnesses. Ask the hearing office whether you need to submit a list of witnesses prior to the trial. If the witnesses are not medical or vocational professionals, the witnesses can describe what they have observed (what they saw) regarding what you can and can’t do and about physical or mental symptoms they have seen. They might say how you were before and after your medical problems began. They should try to give a general date (at least the year and the month, if possible) for when what they first observed problems.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  37. Paul says:

    In late 2011 I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy and a few other CNS problems as well as cognitive issues. The PN is unrelated to diabetes; I have not been pre-diabetic and have my blood work done ever few months since I am on some medication which may cause liver and/or kidney problems. I underwent a few rounds of blood tests. First round I was positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, though I never had the symptoms of it nor live in a wooded area. But the test didn’t lie. My neurologist concluded that what was thought to be swine flu was in fact RMSF. I was treated and returned a month later, no better. So off to round two blood work. Same tests as the previous time. In March 2012 I was diagnosed with HIV however my CD4 counts were great and viral load extremely low. So both my doctor and I concluded that I became seropositive around the same time as what appeared as swine flu. Why it didn’t show up on the first is a mystery. But anyways I have one of those rare cases of HIV with non-drug related PN. At first it was suggested that I go on disability retirement–I resisted until June 2011 after seeing how the PN affected more and more. I also have generalized anxiety disorder since 2001 which this has not made much better. So after going through the exhaustive process of OPM disability retirement, I am now caught in the exhaustive cycle of SSDI. I was initially denied the first time for a technicality–being I could not make an SS Medical appointment though the day of that appointment I went in for a brain biopsy which due to complications didn’t happen. I contacted the DD and faxed over a note and everything; still denied. My reconsideration has just been denied for some absurd reason relating to my ability to still perform my work. Considering I code web and applications; my skill set still requires I type code out. (Right now dictating this comment hell enough-even Siri does not understand my commands 90% of the time.) SSA has all the information on what my skill sets are and also documentation from both my former boss about the decline he witnessed and my doctor’s records on memory loss or even my ability to understand things as I used to. Or so I hope that it got transferred into the decision.

    I have now had 3 MRIs showing lesions in brain; what could they be is the question. They have all that information. So now I am going in for the biopsy and will have its results. My neurologist believes it is Primary CNS Lymphoma. Now if that is the result found. Shouldn’t that place me on the compassionate allowance as the biopsy stating PCNSL as the clinic findings is the central to its page in the CA list.

    So my question is, if in fact do present this finding. What then. I am at the ALJ cycle of all this. My meeting with SSA is before the biopsy to fill out some forms they sent that doesn’t make sense to my world. It’s all about how much money I made between my EOD date to now. I went back and can’t get my mind around it as there are so many factors for my earnings for a period of time which aren’t considering earnings, etc. Now this set of paperwork was sent prior to my letter denying my reconsideration by two days but my local DD told me to just go to the SSA office and get help and still have it ready. I understand the reason why.

    But after that and after my surgery, with the ALJ what are the options rather than waiting for the date considering I may well be already undergoing treatment and hospitalizations. I cannot believe Congress created the Compassionate Care list to work out this way. Any ideas, or examples, or rules you know of.

    I am far from my 60 day decision and am not ready to engage legal help at present time. After my surgery is that time. I’m glad I have my annuity and health insurance. Otherwise, I would be a nervous wreck.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Paul,

      I recommend that you get an attorney now before your surgery so that the attorney can familiarize himself or herself with your case and start requesting records needed to have a successful hearing outcome. Also, the sooner you apply for hearing, the sooner you will get a reply. Also you need to complete all the paperwork that has been requested. If some questions really don’t apply to you answer “no” or “not applicable” if a “no” response wouldn’t make sense. An attorney can help you with the forms.

      I believe that the “compassionate allowance” provision, which allows quick approval for certain diagnoses with short life expectancies, is applicable only for initial claims; but you can check with the hearing office to be sure. In any event, the diagnostic information and treatment plan should be sent to the hearing office together with your appeal or now if you have already requested your hearing.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  38. Candi Loyde says:

    My daughter was diagnosed with high functioning Autism at 3 and was recently told that she no longer qualifies (she’s 8). I filed for reconsideration and to continue benefits but haven’t heard about decision nor have I continued to receive benefits. My children is in general education classes so I wonder if it affects the decision. Also she struggles with behavior issues, sensory integration disorder, and is in physical, occupational, and speech therapy. I know she has improved since she started therapy when she was 1 but she still needs a lot of work to do simple things for herself. She has communication problems with expressing frustrations, asking for help, holding conversation, and many other issues. I am confused why they would think she is not considered disabled? What should I do I am still waiting to hear on reconsideration much less on getting started on any kind of appeal without knowing the result from the reconsideration. Her autism isn’t going to disappear in 12 months. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Candi,

      You have already filed an appeal. The reconsideration is the first level of appeal. You should submit everything possible to support the request for reconsideration. If you haven’t make a succinct but thorough statement of your daughter’s limitations, including specific things she cannot not do and specific behaviors she has problems with; get any formal school records about your daughter’s current educational plan if she has an individualized plan; and get statements from her teachers regarding how she functions in school.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  39. Karolina says:

    I have PTSD (52) been turned down twice now from SSA. ( not a veteran) I was held up at gunpoint at work. I’m taking 3 different types of medz. Currently I’m waiting for a hearing date which I was told by my attorney could take over a year, when I asked my attorney what the odds are that I will be granted SS she said 50/50. Does anybody know if once my case goes to a hearing what the odds are that the Judge will rule in my favor.
    Thank you
    Karolina

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Karolina,

      Your attorney, who has reviewed your statements and your medical records, is in the best position to judge the odds of approval.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Karolina says:

        Thank you
        you said something interesting. My attorney reviewed my medical records, which I was unaware of. Could I ask to see my records from my attorney?
        Thank you
        Karolina

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Karolina,

          Yes, you can ask your attorney to see your records. You might tell him that you want to be sure they are complete and reflect what you told your physician.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Margie Rodriguez says:

            I had my hearing and am clueless if it went good or bad. Judge left record open for 15 days. Is this a bad sign?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Margie,

            Apparently, the judge has left the record open for fifteen days so that you or your attorney, if you have one, can submit information after the hearing. If the judge asked for records or something else to be submitted, you have fifteen days from the hearing to submit the requested information. Or, if you think of something that you didn’t present at the hearing, you can present it during the fifteen-day period. As far as whether the record being kept open is a good or bad sign, I have insufficient context to comment.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

  40. Sabrina says:

    To be more specific I had a hearing today and the judge issued a subpoena for my son’s medical records so how long will it take to get a decision.

  41. Sabrina says:

    Hi kay I’m in ga how long does it take for a judge to get subpoenaed medical records and what’s the next step after that?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sabrina,

      I am unable to answer your question about how long a subpoena takes. If you have seen the subpoena, it probably has a date on it by which the records must be produced. Presumably, once the judge gets the records, he or she will continue review of your claim and make a decision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  42. Khristina says:

    I have a court date March 6th and I’m super nervous .this is my 3rd time and the first time having a hearing . My attorney did give me some tips but I dont feel confident enough. Can someone that has gone threw this can tell me questions they ask or good responses . Idk any advice is good advice

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Khristina,

      First, follow your attorneys advice before the hearing and his lead during the hearing. Second, you cannot predict the questions the judge will address to you. Third, tell the truth.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  43. Nikki says:

    Hi,

    I had my hearing yesterday. The vocational examiner said when asked if someone with my limitations could work, he said no other jobs. Does this mean I will be approved for my claim?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Nikki,

      If the judge believes that the evidence in your claim file supports the limitations you are claiming, probably your claim will be approved.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  44. Jacqueline Davis says:

    Sorry it’s alot,i am only 40 years old. I have however been working since i was 13 all the way up to 03/2013. I have had many more things going on but i would like to have opinions as to my situation. Thanks

  45. Jacqueline Davis says:

    Hello i filed ffor social security in june of 2013 and was denied twice. Thing is i don’t understand why. I have provided everything necessary to be approved. Now just in the past year, they have come up with other disabilities. I am anemic,severely vitamin deficient in b12,d and iron,degenerativejjoint diseaseof my spinal facet jjoints, depressed with anxiety and panic attacks, obese so they say,due to have surgery twice in January, i am very forgetful, walk with a cane although i think they’ll change me to a walker,i am in constant pain and i take many medications. I am awaiting my hearing and yes i have an attorney. I was just wondering if there was anything specific that i needto do to pprepare.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jacqueline,

      Be sure that your attorney has all your medical providers contact information and a list of places where you have had medical tests and all the prescriptions you have taken since you became disabled. Identify which doctors have identified your diagnoses.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  46. candee says:

    I have been called for video conferencing is this good or bad well its my decision im waiting my advocate to advise me . Are there any advantages to do this. I’m 50 with sarcoidosis and PTSD been out of work since March 2013.I’ve been denied twice .I’m going to be seeing a ALJ

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Candee,

      Video conferencing is sometimes offered it the claimant lives a distance away from the face-to-face venue in the state or to schedule earlier if space is an issue. If it were I, I would request a face-to-face hearing, especially if I had any observable symptoms; however, you should go with the advice of your advocate, who knows you and your case much better than I.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • candee says:

        Hi Kay I live very close to the place I may have to go, all of my case reviews are very favorable, I have no observable symptoms mostly covered by my clothing

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Candee,

          It is possible that your appeal has been assigned to a judge in another geographic area because the local judges’ dockets are full at present. Again, I suggest that you discuss the issue with your advocate. You could also possibly call the hearing office to ask why you were offered a video hearing. That might help you make the decision.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  47. Connie says:

    Hi, I’m wanting to find out how long after a hearing in front of a judge does it take for a decision? It’s been over 60 days now. This is for ssdi.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Connie,

      The guideline for the judge to render a decision is sixty days but in some cases it takes longer. You can call the hearing office to find out where your claim is in the process–with the judge awaiting a decision or in letter writing after the decision has been made.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  48. Carolyn Brown says:

    I have a hearing in October n I really don’t know what to do. I have been out of work for 4 years because of my back I went to my doctor about my back and he did a xray but couldn’t find nothing. I know that something is wrong I’m hurting every single day and I don’t know what to do. I can’t do nothing my kids have to come over and do things for me and I really hate that. Sometimes I just hurt and do some things because I always did things on my own. Please help me.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Carolyn,

      Please indicate the type of help you are looking for. Are you looking for attorney representation? Obtain an experienced Social Security attorney. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  49. raynard pruitt says:

    i have 2 questions
    1. now the VE said no to the judges 2 hypotheticals…If denied is that grounds for appeal?
    2. the judge seemed to answer his questions for me..What if anything can you read into that?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Raynard,

      As previously indicated, to be approved the medical evidence in your claim has to support the limitations you claim. If the judge believes that you are as limited as you claim and the vocational expert says that you cannot work in any identifiable occupations with the limitations and restrictions you have, then your claim would be approved. If the judge disregards or does not sufficiently explain his reasons for not considering or accepting the vocational testimony, it could be grounds for appeal. It depends on the reasons for denial the judge puts in the denial letter. I don’t have anything to offer in response to your second question.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  50. tess says:

    Hi — I have Stage IV breast cancer but have been stable for years. Was approved for SSDI under Compassionate and TERI when I applied in 2008 then denied last year during review. Kept benefits during appeal. I take hormonal treatments and am on a clinical trial to keep the cancer stable which has side effects and this disease causes me a minimum of 34 days at the doctor every year. Was told that Compassionate and TERI do not apply to reviews, only new applications.

    Now I have a disability hearing on June 6 with a DHO at the SS office….not with an ALJ. My lawyer said he doesn’t want me to go to the disability hearing at the SS office. Doesn’t want me to say anything that might hurt…he just wants to go straight to ALJ where he can represent me. I’ve used him for years and trust him, it’s not about money, he is only charging me flat fee and he only does disability work. But I am uneasy about not going to the hearing. Thoughts?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tess,

      I am not an attorney so I am uncomfortable second guessing your attorney. Apparently, your attorney expects you to be denied at the DHO hearing if you do not attend, which seems likely to me. I suggest asking Social Security whether your attorney could represent you at the DHO hearing. I would think you would have the right to be represented at any level of your claim. Also, you might ask whether the usual waiting time for an ALJ hearing, which can easily be a year, is also applicable to appeals on terminations.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  51. susan hall says:

    I h ave been out of work for almost 3 years. I applied for ssdi about 2 years ago. I was injured at work and settled. I injured knee and was digonesed with osteoarthritis. I have worked and held at least 2 jobs most of my life raising 3 children on my own, I also was active coached soccer. I can barley get out of bed, perform simple ADLs. I dont make it to bathroom . I am incontinent mostly bladder. Working and being independant is who I am or was. I have fell into deep depression. I have gone to doctor as much as I could. I have no income at all. I am now living house to house with friend and children. They share me all week. I have a hearing in 2 months. I have no insurance so could not see doctor or pay for meds. Because now I am considered homeless at the clinic they have waived my $25 dollar co-pay. My doctor now thinks I have heart problems because my feet and ankles swell all the time I am short of breath and morbidly obese. A little to late I guess. My question is do I have any chance of winning because I have not been able to go to dr. after workers comp settled. due to having no money? Please help I have lost my life and hope to get it back. I would love to win to get the medicaid and get better and go back to work. Does that happen in these casees? I am only 47 years young.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Susan,

      You should submit a copy of your records from the clinic that is speculating that you have heart problems to the hearing office (or to your attorney if you have one). At the hearing, describe the symptoms that you have and the fact that you are homeless and do not have money for medical care after the workers comp claim ended. The judge may order an examination at Social Security’s expense. If your combination of conditions limits you from performing any kind of work that you are qualified for, your claim will be approved. With regard to returning to work, the Social Security Administration offers several return-to-work incentives including a “Ticket to Work,” which will give you access to vocational rehabilitation evaluation and possibly return-to-work assistance. You will be able to access these services if you are approved.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  52. charles says:

    I was in a car accident in 2009 of March where I was T-Boned and I suffered spinal damage. In 2011 I had cervical infusion on four disc in my neck, and the Dr. said I would need the lower operated on as well for the pain that I have been having since this accident. Since then I have tried to work to get insurance, but even with the job being all I have ever done was to paint or be a driver. Well it’s hard to do these things if all I do is suffer from pain. I filed the first time in 2009 when the pain was really bad, but I got denied. Then after the surgery I filed again in 2011 denied again. It has now been 17 months since I filed an appeal and I had to try and work again to get insurance so I could get help with this pain. Well i’m back where I started sitting at home and can’t go to work because of so much pain. Now the new doctors that I’m seeing are talking about a different surgery and more MRI’s being done. I am getting scared but at the same time wondering how long must I keep paying for medicine that’s not helping. So far since 2011 I have spent 3000.00 meds. not counting the bills piling up. What should I do.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Charles,

      I am a bit unclear about where you are in the appeals process. If you are waiting for a hearing date, I suggest calling the hearings office to make sure that your claim has not slipped between the cracks. If you already had the hearing and are waiting for the Appeals Council Review, it could be several more months before you hear anything. If you are waiting for a hearing and don’t have legal representation, it could be a good idea to have an attorney review your claim and appeal and represent you at the hearing. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      I am not qualified to offer suggestions about your medical care; however, if the medication is not helping, I suggest that you discuss alternatives with your physicians.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  53. Draya says:

    Hi Kay, I am a 29 yr old who filed for SSI almost 3yrs ago. I suffer from depression, panic disorder with agoraphobia, severe sleep apnea and chronic lower back pain. I have of course had my initial and reconsideration applications denied and Im now a year in waiting to be scheduled for a hearing.

    I obtained an attorney almost a year ago and the closer I get to this hearing the more nervous I am. Mostly because I wish my attorney would touch basis with me about my health. I mean he does return my phone calls, and I guess thats more important right?

    Also I am nervous because I am so young and I feel like that is a burden on my case in and of itself. I have been doing everything I need to do as far as keeping all of my appts with specialists and staying on top of my meds.
    I just don’t see an end in sight for me with this, especially not a favorable one and I am so tired of waiting and fighting, I just dont have the strength.
    Do you have any suggestions on what else I need to do on my own to prepare for my ALJ hearing?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Draya,

      If you have not already done so, I would write up a summary of your medical condition and treatment for the year since you filed your hearing request. Be as brief as possible while listing continuing conditions and symptoms, new conditions and symptoms, test results, medical providers with address and phone numbers for any that are new, meds you still take and list of medication changes. Also, include a statement about your daily activities and any non-work things you can’t do any longer or have difficulty or need help in doing. If you did not provide all this when you hired the attorney, you should provide it all the way back to your disability date. Then call the attorney and say that you are concerned that your health has not been discussed and that you have written up a summary that you are mailing him. Ask him to call if, after reading the summary, there is anything else he needs to know about your health.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  54. Dawn says:

    Yeah…they called me back today…finally. they had a clutch in their system, it did not remind them to call me. So, they rescheduled for April, and apologized for the mistake, and not calling me back.

  55. Dawn says:

    I had a hearing scheduled for Feb. 18 @ 9 am, by phone. I was contacted twice reminding me, I waited by the phone all day, no call for them. I have call waiting if I was on the other line, however I was not. That day around 3:30 I called back the woman that set the appt., only answering machine, no return call. I have no idea what the H is going on, any ideas, or has anyone else experienced this. Any help or info would help me mentally.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dawn,

      This is certainly an odd occurrence. First, usually hearings are either in person or via teleconference so that you can be seen–not just by telephone. Second, with the reminders that you received, it seems very odd that the call didn’t come through. I suggest that you continue to try to reach the hearing office to find out what is going on.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Dawn says:

        Thank you Kay for the quick response. Will try to call again in the morning. I got the phone hearing due to the fact I cannot ride or drive more than thirty minutes in a car. I fall asleep behind the wheel, and sitting in a car is painful to my back. I figured it would be tele/video conference also, but was called and told it would be by phone, so no call worries me. Thanks again.

        Dawn

  56. Lisa says:

    How long after being denied a reconsideration can I expect the hearing to take place? My Doctor say’s he does not believe I will be disabled forever. He does not fill out any questionnaires sent to him. He just forwards my records to them. Could this be the reason for my denials?
    The cardiologists, physical therapist, psychiatrist, therapist and caseworker from the county all say I am unable to work with the conditions I have. Degenerative disc disease, four herniated and pinching nerves with bone spurs on most and arthritis in my hips and lower back. Severe anxiety disorder and since I have applied, cardiac issues. Bad genetics there,,,we all start with heart issues around 50,,I’m now 51,52 this year. I have worked Heavy Highway Union Construction as a general laborer/truck driver/union organizer since I was 27. Construction is all I have ever worked, except for a few jobs when I was under 22 when I joined. Does that have any bearing on my judgment because that has been my trade for almost 30 years. If I could bend over and tie my shoes and could get anyone to hire me with my lifting/ bending/ sitting restrictions and special needs of time off for days I can’t get out of bed because of a migraine from my neck discs If you can find a construction company to accept that liability,, good luck!! Or any job for that matter. I tried to go to school when I was still getting state disability and was working with the department of rehabilitation but could not maintain my classes or work due to pain and anxiety attacks. So the DOR dropped me because i could not attend. I tried every avenue I know to be able to work but no one will deal with my special needs. And I can’t say as I blame them :~/.
    Synopses: How long of a span of time between denial of
    reconsideration to Hearing?
    Does the type of work done for so long have any bearing?
    Is my doctor screwing me up with his bad attitude.
    ( Forced to go to county clinic )
    Any help understanding this stuff is greatly appreciated. I live alone in a state far from family and not much of a support system so I need this to survive. May be homeless after I have to tell my ever so patient landlord that I got another denial,,,,,,, :(

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lisa,

      Because you became disabled when you were age fifty or over, you have to be disabled only from your own occupation so the work you have done in the past has a lot of bearing on whether your claim will be approved.

      It can take a year or more to get a hearing date after you file your request for a hearing. You have multiple conditions, which sometimes makes it difficult to present your full medical picture. I have two suggestions.

      First, if you do not already have an attorney, I suggest hiring one. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Second, I suggest that you explain to your non-supportive physician that Social Security Disability is for people who are disabled or are expected to be disabled for twelve months. You do not have to be permanently disabled to be eligible. Say that it would be helpful for him or her to make a statement just regarding your current limitations.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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