How long does a Social Security Disability hearing last?

Disability hearings are, fairly often, somewhat short. It is not unusual to even have a hearing last as little as 10-15 minutes.

How can this be the case? If the administrative law judge presiding over the case has already, for the most part, made up his or her mind to "pay the case" (approve the claimant for disability benefits), then there is relatively little to discuss between the judge and the claimant, or the judge and the claimant's disability lawyer.

The fact that disability judges have the claimant's entire file available to them prior to the hearing ( including whatever medical records and other evidence has been gathered by either the claimant or their attorney and then submitted to the hearing office) facilitates this.

How can you tell if a disability hearing may take longer? If the judge has requested the appearance of expert witnesses, such as a vocational expert or a medical expert (judges do this to provide additional expert evaluation regarding a claimant's residual functional capacity or their ability to find employment in the national economy based on their condition and work abilities), it is less likely that the hearing will be over in 10-15 minutes.

When expert witnesses are called to be present at a social security hearing, such witnesses will communicate with the judge and the claimant's disability lawyers, usually over hypothetical situations that speculate as to A) the claimant's remaining mental or physical functionality, B) the availability of certain jobs and C) the claimant's ability to perform the work involved in those jobs.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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