Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after a Denial
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
Child Disability Benefits
Qualifications and How to Qualify
Working and Disability
Disability Awards and Notices
Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys
Social Security List of Conditions
What Social Security considers disabling
Medical Evidence and Disability
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
Does your chance of winning disability benefits at a hearing depend on the judge you get?
There is no doubt that the outcome of a disability hearing can depend on the specific administrative law judge that you get. Disability attorneys and non-attorney disability representatives are usually well aware of which judges at a hearing office are more likely to pose a problem for a claimant's case. Some judges have a reputation for being tougher on children's disability claims while others are known to be less (or more) likely to approve a case that is based primarily on a certain condition, such as ADHD or fibromyalgia.
Is there anything that you or your disability lawyer can do if your case is assigned to be heard by a harsh judge? In a word, no. The hearings office determines which cases go to which particular judges and there is no option for protesting the assignment of the judge. Generally, this assignment tends to "stick" through a variety of circumstances.
For example, if you miss your hearing date or know in advance that the hearing date will be in conflict with your schedule (you may have a doctor's appointment or a family matter scheduled for that date), you can request rescheduling. But your case will stay with the same judge. Even if your case is denied at a disability hearing and you file the next appeal--a request for review of the administrative law judge's decision--and then your case is subsequently scheduled for a remand hearing (basically a second chance at a hearing), then you will likely have your remand hearing in front of the very same judge who previously saw you...and denied your case.
Typically, the only way for a claimant to get a new judge on a social security disability or SSI case is if they actually move from state to another. A move of this distance will necessitate that the jurisdiction for a claim be changed to a new social security field office and a new hearings office.
Of course, the corollary to the question with which we began is "Can your chances of winning disability benefits be improved depending on which judge you get at a hearing?". And the answer is, yes, of course. Just as some judges are known to be harder, and have a higher rate of denial, other judges have a documented higher rate of approval for the cases they decide.
However, since a claimant can never predict when they file a request for a hearing whether or not they will get a sympathetic judge, the best approach to an impending hearing is preparation. Proper hearing preparation usually begins with obtaining qualified disability representation. But it also includes several other things.
Continued at: Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria