Overview of Disability

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Disability Conditions List

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Your Medical Evidence

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SSDRC Disability Blog

Does your chance of winning disability benefits at a hearing depend on the judge you get?

There is no doubt that the outcome of a disability hearing can depend on the specific administrative law judge that you get. Disability attorneys and non-attorney disability representatives are usually well aware of which judges at a hearing office are more likely to pose a problem for a claimant's case. Some judges have a reputation for being tougher on children's disability claims while others are known to be less (or more) likely to approve a case that is based primarily on a certain condition, such as ADHD or fibromyalgia.

Is there anything that you or your disability lawyer can do if your case is assigned to be heard by a harsh judge? In a word, no. The hearings office determines which cases go to which particular judges and there is no option for protesting the assignment of the judge. Generally, this assignment tends to "stick" through a variety of circumstances.

For example, if you miss your hearing date or know in advance that the hearing date will be in conflict with your schedule (you may have a doctor's appointment or a family matter scheduled for that date), you can request rescheduling. But your case will stay with the same judge. Even if your case is denied at a disability hearing and you file the next appeal--a request for review of the administrative law judge's decision--and then your case is subsequently scheduled for a remand hearing (basically a second chance at a hearing), then you will likely have your remand hearing in front of the very same judge who previously saw you...and denied your case.

Typically, the only way for a claimant to get a new judge on a social security disability or SSI case is if they actually move from state to another. A move of this distance will necessitate that the jurisdiction for a claim be changed to a new social security field office and a new hearings office.

Of course, the corollary to the question with which we began is "Can your chances of winning disability benefits be improved depending on which judge you get at a hearing?". And the answer is, yes, of course. Just as some judges are known to be harder, and have a higher rate of denial, other judges have a documented higher rate of approval for the cases they decide.

However, since a claimant can never predict when they file a request for a hearing whether or not they will get a sympathetic judge, the best approach to an impending hearing is preparation. Proper hearing preparation usually begins with obtaining qualified disability representation. But it also includes several other things.

Continued at: Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits

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?
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?

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.

How to file for disability, SSD or SSI
How to file for Disability and what medical conditions qualify
How long will it take to get disability?
What if your disability gets denied?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How to get disability with a mental condition
How long for Social Security Disability Back pay
Social Security Disability SSI eligibility