Social Security Administration Hearing - Common questions
How are the Social Security Disability Hearing Scheduled?
Social Security Disability claimants who have had their Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance claim denied at the reconsideration have 60 days to request an administrative hearing.
Administrative hearings are handled by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The United States is divided into 10 ODAR regional offices, 169 hearing offices (including 7 satellite offices), 5 national hearing centers, and 1 national case assistance center.
Claimants Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance cases are assigned to the regional office which services their area. Within this system there are 1,300 Administrative Law Judges who hear thousands of disability cases each year.
If a Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claimant makes a request for an administrative hearing their Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income file is sent to the appropriate ODAR office.
How long will I have to wait for a Social Security Disability hearing?
According to the Social Security Administration they, attempt to schedule all hearings promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals or delays due to ALJ travel schedules.
What does this really mean? It means that in many parts of the country the hearing case loads which are pending number in the hundreds and may be divided among only 5 to 10 Administrative Law Judges. The volume of Social Security Disability cases can be overwhelming for the number of judges available to hear the claims, and it is not unusual for disability claimants to wait 12-14 months for a Social Security Disability hearing.
The Social Security Administration will notify the each claimant at least 20 days prior to their hearing. The notice will outline the date, time and location of the hearing.
What if I cannot travel to my Social Security Disability hearing?
The goal of the Social Security Administration is to hold all disability hearings within 75 miles from a claimants home. This of course may not always be possible so the SSA does allow some hearings to be held via teleconference.
Claimants who cannot travel to a disability hearing should contact the SSA as soon as possible. The Social Security Administration requests that they submit a doctors report with their hearing request explaining their limitations to traveling.
Do I have to appear at my Social Security Disability Hearing?
Claimants do not have to appear at their hearing, but if they decide they cannot they must notify the Social Security Administration in writing at the time they request the hearing and ask that the Administrative Law Judge make the disability decision exclusively based on the medical information in their Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income file. Claimants also have the option to add additional evidence to their disability file by contacting their local SSA office and requesting Form HA-4608.
It is highly recommended that claimants appear at their hearing and that they hire a disability lawyer to review their disability file and add additional medical evidence, if necessary. Disability lawyers will also appear at the Social Security Disability hearing and present the disability case to the court.
The judge may ask a vocational expert and a medical expert to attend the hearing and a disability lawyer will be able to not only question all witnesses but offer evidence to refute their testimony.
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