Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Social Security Disability Hearing with a Judge

If you've been denied for social security disability or SSI disability, you should file an appeal immediately. The social security administration gives each claimant 60 days in which to file an appeal; however, the appeal should really be filed as soon as possible following the receipt of a notice of denial. Why? To avoid unnecessary processing time on your claim, and also to give yourself a "time cushion" meaning that if your submitted paperwork gets lost in the mail (or lost at the social security office), you will have sufficient time to still get your disability appeal submitted before the 60 day deadline passes.

The social security disability hearing appeal before a judge will be the second disability appeal and it will follow the denial of the first appeal, known as a request for reconsideration.

1. After a disability hearing is requested, it can easily take more than a year before a hearing date with an administrative law judge is set. In fact, in many states, the wait, based on current backlogs, may take more than two years.

2. Though you are not required to have representation in the form of a disability attorney or a non-attorney disability representative, having representation at the hearing is sound advice. It is a statistical fact that claimants who go to hearings by themselves are fifty percent less likely to win their cases.

Why? Because 99.9 percent of all claimants have no idea how disability claims are adjudicated and even what the relevant concepts are (such as unsuccessful work attempts, date last insured, the opinions of treating physicians, past relevant work, substantial gainful activity, recency of medical evidence).

Additionally, most claimants who go to hearings unrepresented have little idea of how to interpret the information in their cumulative social security files. That makes it very difficult to present an argument that the claim should not have been denied in the first place.

Finally, most claimants who go to hearings by themselves do an inadequate job of preparing for a disability hearing. Many are not even aware of the the fact that the judge will not gather medical records for their claim (at the hearing level, it is the responsbility of the claimant or the claimant's representative to gather additional medical evidence to support the claim).

3. Preparation for a disability hearing with a judge should not only include gathering updated medical records (this is done because the social security administration does not gather any additional records after the claim has been denied at the level prior to the hearing), but should definitely include attempts to get qualified statements from a claimant's treating physician. Ideally, a supportive statement should be obtained on something known as an RFC, or residual functional capacity form.

4. A disability hearing may take place in the presence of not only the claimant, the claimant's attorney, and the judge, but may also include experts that the judge has called on to appear, such as a vocational expert (these experts provide testimony as to the likelihood of a claimant being able to re-enter the workforce) or a medical expert. Experts are called on at the judge's discretion and their testimony can certainly affect the outcome of a claim.

However, the experts can be questioned by either an unrepresented claimant, or by the claimant's representative. Obviously, when experts have been called to testify by a judge, it makes sense to have a disability attorney present so the expert's opinions can be engaged and even challenged.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
What happens when you go to a Social Security disability hearing?
How do I request a social security disability hearing - How do I file?
Requesting a Social Security Hearing when you have a Disability Representative or Attorney
How long does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?
What are the odds of a judge giving you a disability denial?
What is a Social Security administrative law judge disability hearing?
What is the time frame for a judge to make a decision for a disability hearing?
How should I prepare for a disability hearing with Social Security?
What are the questions that get asked at a social security disability or SSI hearing?

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