What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
What are Medical Experts at Social Security disability hearings?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
If you get denied for social security disability or SSI at the disability application level, and then get denied once more on a request for reconsideration appeal, you will be in the position of being allowed to request the second appeal that is available to claimants. That appeal is the administrative law judge hearing.
The disability hearing is very different from the earlier steps of the system. First of all, the claimant will actually have a face-to-face meeting with the decision-maker who is a federally appointed judge.
Secondly, the claimant will have the right to appear at the hearing with a chosen representative (usally an attorney who specializes in disability claims).
Thirdly, the entire burden for gathering the most recent medical records and presenting them at the hearing...will fall entirely upon the claimant and their lawyer, assuming they have one.
This is because after a claim has been denied at the reconsideration level, the social security administration ceases all case development, meaning they no longer gather any records that may be used in the decision process.
The fourth difference between the hearing level and the prior levels of the system is that the decision-maker at this level, in this case a judge, will have the option of calling experts to the hearing.
Why are experts called to disability hearings? Arguably to assist the judge in his or her decision-making. Though, in all honesty, very often experts are called by judges to hearings to support a decision which the judge already has in mind so that:
A) The decision can gain the appearance of being more sound and
B) The case can stand less of a chance of being remanded and returned to the judge for a second hearing (remands are ordered by the appeals council when the AC finds some level of deficiency or inadequacy with the outcome of the hearing or the process by which the decision was reached).
What types of experts are called to hearings? Judge may call medical experts, physicians who are M.D.s. They may also call VEs, or vocational experts. It is not uncommon for a judge to call both a medical expert and a VE to appear at a hearing.
In either case, however, the expert will typically respond to questioning and address hypothetical situations conjured by the judge and the claimant's disability attorney--all of which may have a direct effect on the outcome of a case.
Which is exactly why no claimant would wisely decide to appear at a disability hearing alone and without representation. Representation may provide "iffy" benefits at the lower levels of the system, but at hearings, representatives should be be considered a given by anyone wishing to win their claim.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Topics and Questions
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials