If your application for Social Security disability benefits has reached the point where an administrative hearing has been scheduled, you are pretty frustrated. After all, you were already rejected twice, and it has been many months if not a year or more that you have been waiting to get that letter saying you are approved. You may also be worried. What if you are not awarded the benefits that you so badly need?
These are valid concerns and sometimes the best way to address worry is to educate yourself on the topic that bothers you. In this post we are going to deep-dive into the topic of SSD administrative hearings.
Before your hearing
After you submit your request for a hearing, your request will be reviewed. The hearing office might contact you for further information or documents. You can also submit further evidence about your disability either by mail or fax. If you are being represented by an attorney, they can submit this evidence for you.
You will be sent notification of your hearing date and place at least 75 days beforehand. It is important that you show up at the hearing. If you cannot do so, inform the hearing office in writing as soon as you can before the hearing and explain why you cannot attend. You can request that your hearing date be changed but you must do so before either the 30 days following the notice of your hearing or five days before your hearing date, whichever is first.
At your hearing
An administrative hearing looks a bit like a trial, but it is much less formal. Your hearing will be held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will explain the issues present in your case. Witnesses can attend the hearing and be questioned. You may also testify. All testimony is made under oath. You can be represented by an attorney at your hearing.
After your hearing
After your hearing, the ALJ will issue a ruling in writing. This writing will be based on the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing. The ALJ’s decision will be mailed to you and your attorney. The whole process can take several weeks. If you are denied benefits, your next option is to request a review by the Appeals Council.
All of this may seem overwhelming but do not lose hope. Many people whose applications for SSD benefits were denied at reconsideration are successful at their hearing. This is key. You worked hard your whole life and now that you have a medical condition that keeps you from working, you deserve the SSD benefits you are entitled to. Sometimes it just takes some time and effort to get what you are owed.