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

Who Makes the Decision at the Social Security Disability, SSI Hearing Level?

If your SSI or Social Security Disability claim has progressed to the disability hearing level, an administrative law judge will make the decision on your case and decide if it is to be approved or denied. The ALJ uses essentially the same process to decide a claim as a disability examiner when you first apply for disability benefits.

What is that process? The following page discusses what happens on a disability case when a case is being worked on initially by a disability examiner: The Social Security Disability Approval Process and the Criteria for Decisions.

However, at the hearing level, the process is still essentially the same. The ALJ will review the medical evidence looking for signs of limitations that might prevent a person from engaging in normal daily activities.

When the claimant is a child (such as for SSI child benefits), being unable to engage in normal daily activities would typically mean having difficulty engaging in age-appropriate activities. For children who are school-age, this will typically mean having to examine evidence as to the child's ability to perform school work.

For this reason, child disability cases will often involve reviewing IQ testing, achievement testing, grades, IEPs, and questionaires from the child's teachers, all in the attempt to determine whether or not the child is being impaired from engaging in what is thought to be normal and expected for the child's age.

When the claimant is an adult, the emphasis will still be on evaluating whether or not the individual can engage in normal daily activities.

However, here the emphasis will be on determining whether or not the individual is capable of A) performing work activity and B) working and earning at least a certain minimum threshold of income each month.

Item B is important because the social security administration has taken the position that even individuals with disabilities may still be able to work, even if they cannot work to the extent of being able to earn a livable wage.

It is for this reason that disability benefit applicants and recipients are not necessarily penalized for working, though their benefits may be reduced or stopped altogether if they demonstrate the ability to work in excess of a certain limit (that limit is known as the substantial gainful activity, or SGA, level).

How does the administrative law judge (or a disability examiner if the case is being worked on at the lower levels of the system) evaluate whether or not a person can work? This decision process involves reviewing the claimant's past work and comparing that to the physical and mental capabilities they currently possess.

If the evidence suggests that the individual cannot return to a former job (potentially any job they have done in the last 15 years) or perform some type of other work they have never done but for which their education, physical and mental condition, and work training might qualify them for, then it is likely that they will be approved for disability benefits.

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?
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?
If you apply for disability in Utah
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Utah

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.