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 is a Social Security administrative law judge disability hearing?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
The administrative law judge disability hearing is the second "appeal level" in the social security administration's disability appeal system. Here is a brief outline of the first few levels of the system (which apply to both SSDI (social security disability insurance) and SSI claims.
1. Initial claim - This is the disability application, which is the very first level of the system. Disability applications are taken at local social security offices and are processed by disability examiners at disability determination services, otherwise known as DDS. A disability application usually stands only a thirty percent chance of being approved.
2. Request for Reconsideration - This is the second level of the system, and it is the first level of appeal. If a claim is denied at the initial claim level, a claimant may file this first appeal.
Requesting the appeal is as simple as contacting the local social security office where the claim was taken and asking that the appeal paperwork be mailed out. This appeal should be filed by a disability attorney if the claimant is represented. However, the paperwork is very simple and generally can be completed in under an hour. The most important aspect of filing this, and any, appeal is to get the appeal submitted within the 60 day appeal deadline. Appeals that are sent in after the deadline and which do not have good cause (a justifiable reason for being late such as illness or a personal or family emergency) will not be acceptable, thus causing the claimant to start over with a new initial claim (disability application). Reconsideration appeals are also processed at DDS, usually by a disability examiner who is at a higher level. Reconsiderations are denied, nationally, at a rate of about 87 percent.
3. Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) - This is the third level of the system and the second level of the SSDI and SSI appeal system. This level is substantially different in that the decision is not made at DDS and does not involve a disability examiner. Instead, the decision is made by a federal judge who is employed by the social security administration but who is objective and does not represent the interests of the federal government. On average, more than sixty percent of hearings are won by claimants at hearings, particularly when the claimant is represented by a social security disability lawyer (an attorney who specializes in this one area of federal administrative law).
This sums up the first three levels of the SSDI and SSI system. The remaining levels include the appeals council (which reviews the decisions of a judge who has denied a claim) and federal court of appeals.
To answer the question that is the title of this post, it may be helpful to state what the hearing involves and some of the characteristics regarding disability hearings:
continued at: Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Disability Hearing
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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