A disability law judge hearing is the third stage in a Social Security or SSI disability appeal. The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is the office of the United States Social Security Administration that conducts the hearing. After initial denial and reconsideration denial, an adminstrative hearing is requested. It takes many months to get a hearing date. The number of months depends on the local hearing office. As of April 2020, an average wait time of as much as one year was common.
Who Attends the Disability Law Judge Hearing?
The hearings are meant to be informal, fact-finding procedures. In the hearing courtroom, the claimant can expect to see the attorney and the judge. There is a hearing assistant who is there simply to record the hearing and handle the file. Sometimes medical and vocational experts are also present. The job of these experts is to give an opinion on the case, based on the medical records and the testimony. There is no “prosecutor” at the hearing, no lawyer for Social Security will be cross-examining the claimant. So, you should not expect to be vigorously grilled by a lawyer trying to “trip” you up. Nobody else is allowed to attend your disability hearing without your permission. Your hearing is private because it involves your very sensitive disability information.
What Should I Wear to the Social Security Hearing?
Disability hearings are important and you should dress accordingly. That means you should do your best to dress nicely and look presentable. You should be clean and groomed. However, you should not wear a suit and tie, or a dress with high heels. You do not want to look like the lawyer, or claims representative that is representing you at the hearing. If you attend church, many times, it is a good idea to dress like you are going to church. Dress nice, but not too nice!
What Happens During the Hearing?
Disability law judge hearings usually take about an hour. The judge may ask your lawyer for an opening statement or a theory of the case. All witnesses, including the claimant, that are expected to testify during the administrative hearing will be required to take an oath that they will testify truthfully. The judge will sometimes ask the claimant questions first and then allow the attorney to direct questions. Some judges let the attorney ask their client questions first. In either case, the main information covered is age, educational background including vocational training, work history and disabilities. The judge will be very interested in the physical and mental limitations that prevent you from working.
The disability can be mental or physical. In most cases, friends and family members do not go inside the hearing. In rare instances, when the claimant cannot fully present his evidence at the disability law judge hearing, a relative may also testify during the disability law judge hearing. If a family member is to testify, expect the judge to ask them to wait outside the hearing until it is their time to testify.
All the pertinent information that your lawyer has asked you for and evidence, including medical, psychological and vocational records, are usually submitted to the judge before the hearing. During the hearing, the judge will consider the medical evidence in the file, the testimony at the hearing, the experts’ opinion and any further briefs or letters from the attorney, and then will issue a decision. The decision is rarely made at the hearing itself. Sometimes the disability law judge will request that you be seen by another consulting doctor or psychologist before holding a supplemental disability law judge hearing.
How Long After the Administrative Law Judge Hearing Does It Take to Get a Decision?
The written decision will usually be issued within 45 days, and award letters for favorable decisions are usually received at the same time. The written decision, if favorable, is the trigger for the beginning of the payment process. A decision that is completely in your favorable is called a “Fully Favorable” decision. It can still be several more months until money is in the hands of a successful claimant. There are often delays at the local office or national payment centers.
Claimants who have won their cases are now sent an internet access code to check the progress of their back benefit payments online. With electronic fund transfers and deposits, in an uncomplicated case, payments can be quickly facilitated. Most of the time, the back pay is deposited directly into the claimants bank account through electronic funds transfers. Claims that involve dependents or offset issues may take longer to resolve.
Please call or e-mail us at 855-Go-Disability, if we can provide a free consultation If you may have disability issues. The careful evaluation and advice of an attorney may result in larger back benefit payments and faster resolution of claims.