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

Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing

continued from: What is a Social Security administrative law judge disability hearing?

1. A Social Security Disability or SSI hearing is held at an approved location which is usually a hearing office (ODAR, office of disability adjudication and review), but is sometimes a satellite location (a rented office in a bank or a hotel conference room, for example) for the convenience of claimants who live too far from the actual hearing office. Hearings are also conducted by video to make it easier for both the claimant and the ALJ; however, a claimant who is uncomfortable with having a hearing by video has the right to an in-person hearing if they so demand.

2. A hearing is a process in which the claimant may also appear with a designated representative, who can be a disability lawyer, or a non-attorney claimant's representative.

3. At a hearing, the responsibility for obtaining medical record evidence (which can include statements from the claimant's treating physician, or physicians if there is more than one) falls on the claimant.

Unlike the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels in which all the evidence gathering is done by a disability examiner, at the hearing level the government no longer does any preparation for the case. This is the responsibility of the claimant or their attorney if they are represented.

4. Hearings can last over an hour, but can sometimes be concluded in under twenty minutes (ALJs sometimes have their minds made up well before the hearing even begins).

5. In some cases, a judge may decide to do an on-the-record review of a case and issue a decision prior to the date of the hearing. Usually, this occurs only if a claimant's attorney requests that an on-the-record review be conducted. If an on-the-record decision is made, it is "fully favorable". Anything less than a fully favorable determination would require that the hearing go forward as scheduled.

6. In some cases, a judge may decide to hold the hearing but issue a decision at the hearing versus requiring the claimant to wait for formal notification through the mail. This is known as a bench decision. Bench decisions, like on-the-record decisons, are only granted if the case can be approved as fully favorable (meaning that the judge agrees with the AOD, or alleged onset date, provided by the claimant at the time they decided to file for disability OR that the claimant has agreed to amend their onset date to be in agreement with one proposed by the judge).

7. A claimant is not required to have a representative for a hearing before an ALJ but it is well-advised since it can take well over a year to get a hearing scheduled. Meaning that, for something that takes so long to get to, one should be as prepared as possible. Representation generally results in a substantially more prepared case in addition to a better understanding of the facts of the case and a more skilled presentation of the argument as to why disability benefits should be granted to the claimant.

8. Disability judges are required to provide advance notification of a scheduled hearing date at least 20 days before the hearing actually occurs.

9. Unlike disability examiners at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels, ALJs actually give weight to the opinion of a claimant's treating physician (a doctor who has a history of providing treatment to a patient, making that doctor qualified to comment on the patient's prognosis and functional limitations). For this reason, a disability representative will usually obtain a medical source statement (also known as a residual functional capacity statement) from a claimant's treating physician.

10. The disability hearing may involve the presence of a medical and/or vocational expert called to appear by the administrative law judge. Medical experts illuminate information contained in the claimant's medical records and can extrapolate for the judge what the claimant's level of functionality might be. Vocational experts can provide testimony as to the vocational job base that might be available to a claimant with a certain level of functional capacity given their age, education, and job skills. When an expert appears at a hearing, it will be the job of the claimant's attorney to respond to hypothetical situations entertained by the expert concerning what the claimant is physically or mentally capable of doing and whether or not they can perform a specific job.

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?
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

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?

Applying for SSI disability in Florida

How much does a Florida disability lawyer cost?

How Much Can You get in Social Security Disability in Florida?

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.