How Many Disability Hearings are Won?

For individuals who have been denied for disability benefits, the best route to take will be to initiate the appeals process. This begins by filing a request for reconsideration. This first appeal is handled, again, by a disability examiner, and most reconsiderations are denied. However, after a reconsideration denial has been received, a claimant may file a request for hearing before an administrative law judge.

How many hearings are won?

Forty percent of claimants who go to hearings unrepresented will typically win their claims. What is the benefit of representation then? Up to sixty-two percent of claimants who go to hearings with representation will win their claims, which is a fifty percent improvement in the odds of winning versus going to a hearing alone.

Hearings represent the best opportunity for winning disability benefits for those who are not lucky enough to be approved at the initial claim level. However, disability hearings cannot be requested until a disability application has been denied, and a reconsideration appeal has also been denied.

When do you actually get to see a judge for a Social Security Disability or SSI claim? After the hearing request has been made (if you are represented by a lawyer, your lawyer will submit the hearing request and take care of all the hearing related matters that occur along the way such as obtaining a copy of your file and submitting evidence updates), it will usually take many months for the process to play itself.

This means that the hearing request will need to be processed at the local social security office where it was submitted and then it will need to be transferrred to the hearing office that has jurisdiction (hearings offices are known as ODAR, which stands for Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) for the case.

At that point, the case will simply go into a queue waiting to be assigned to an ALJ whose staff will do the workup on the case (marking exhibits for the hearing) and then scheduled as the administrative law judge's schedule permits. All told, it can often take one year or longer to get a hearing date.

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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