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

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.

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?
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

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