How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge

Individuals who have been A) denied on a disability application and B) denied on a request for reconsideration appeal have the option of filing a second appeal which is a request for a hearing that is decided by a federally appointed judge.

Decisions that issued by administrative law judges tend to be more balanced, meaning that a claimant has a far better chance of having their medical evidence evaluated objectively and fairly.

Proof of this lies in the fact that a social security judge will tend to give the proper consideration and weight to any statements submitted by a claimant's treating physician or treating physicians (some people have more than one) when such statements clearly indicate the claimant's physical or mental limitations and the extent to which these limitations reduce the ability to engage in normal activities of daily living, particularly as they relate to work activity.

Individuals pursuing a claim for disability will generally have at least a forty percent chance of being awarded disability benefits by a judge at a hearing. This is far better than the 30 percent approval rate that is obtained at the initial disability application level or the 12-15 approval rate that is seen at the first appeal level, which is the request for reconsideration.

Disability hearings in which claimants are represented by either a non-attorney disability representative or by a disability attorney will have an even better chance of resulting in an approval, as high as 62-65 percent.

Because social security hearings are far more likely to yield an awarding of benefits, a claimant should always pursue the disability appeal process, at least as far as the hearing level. The only negative, of course, to filing a request for a disability hearing is the length of time that it takes to get a hearing date scheduled.

Prior to the year 2000, it was not uncommon to only wait 3-5 months for a hearing with an administrative law judge to be scheduled. Now, due to backlogs and a system that sees more claims being filed each year, it is not unsusual to see waits of 12 months or longer.

What happens on a disability case after a hearing has been requested and is waiting to be scheduled? At the hearing office, very little will occur on the claim because A) it is only sometime prior to the actual scheduling that the case file is reviewed by the judge who has been assigned to the case and B) the hearing office does not gather updated medical records to further develop the case.

This is very different from when the case is evaluated at the two prior levels (the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels). At those levels, a disability examiner takes full responsibility for obtaining whatever documentation is needed to make a decision on the case.

At the hearing level, by contrast, the only information that will be considered by the ruling judge is whatever information is already in the disability file. Unless, that is, the claimant obtains additional (and recent) medical record documentation. In cases where a claimant is represented, of course, the representative will generally make considerable effort to obtain the following:

1. Recent medical records. Recent documentation is needed to show that the claimant is "currently" disabled.

2. Medical records that address any condition for which the attorney believes a case for disability can be made.

3. In the case of a mental impairment (or a child filing for disability), school records.

4. In some instances, work records such as statements from employers or documentation detailing earnings or time spent on the job.

5. Objective statements from a claimant's physician (known as a medical source statement) that describe the claimant's RFC, or residual functional capacity.

In addition to this, a disability lawyer or non-attorney representative may attempt to secure a bench decision on a case to speed up receiving a decision. Or the representative may attempt to secure an "on the record decision" which could remove the need for even holding the hearing.

Or the representative might attempt to have the hearing scheduled sooner because of the claimant's financial and/or medical situation if that situation can be described as being one of dire need.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

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?
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Presenting evidence at a Social Security Disability or SSI hearing
How Long Does It Take To Get The Results Of A Disability Hearing?
Do Most People Have To Go To A Disability Hearing in order to Get Approved For Disability?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?
Social Security Disability Hearings - What is the ALJ
If you apply for disability in Maryland
Will I qualify for disability benefits in Maryland?
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Maryland

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.