What are Social Security hearings really like?

 

Request a Social Security Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge

Once an individual in Alabama is denied following his/her application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the next step is to file a request for a Social Security hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Ordinarily, the Social Security Administration assigns a judge about 12 months after a claimant filed an appeal and the SSA confirmed the receipt of it.

Video teleconference hearings are completely private

Normally, the judge schedules a hearing to take place at a federal building near a claimant’s residence. Thankfully, it is rare that the Social Security Administration requires disabled people to travel great distances.  For the most part, the Judge hears cases by a Video Teleconference.  Only the Judge is located at the main office.  My client can see and hear the judge over a television. The hearing happens behind closed doors, therefore, there is privacy.  No one should be able to overhear a claimant’s testimony.  This is similar across most hearings.

Sometimes expert testimony helps – disabilities affect abilities

Let’s take a recent experience.  I took a disability claimant with a history of kidney failure to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.  Fortunately, her doctor elected to support her claim.  Therefore, we requested the Social Security Administration assign a judge early to review the claim file and the medical records. We wanted the judge to determine if she could come to a favorable decision to award disability benefits without a hearing.  While the judge did not have enough evidence to make a decision immediately, she scheduled a hearing to take my client’s testimony under oath.

Quick results do happen — sometimes

After listening to my client’s testimony, the judge called a Vocational Expert.  A vocational expert is someone who gives the judge feedback on how a person’s disabilities may affect their capacity to perform jobs. That expert then testifies and responds to my client’s disabling conditions. Fortunately, the judge noted that my client’s testimony was credible and that the medical records supported it. She asked the Vocational Expert about taking days off for treatment and missing work. The Vocational Expert explained that employers generally do not allow frequent absenteeism from work, even to pursue treatment.  As a result, we now expect a quick result.

While not all cases resolves this quickly, our office takes a great deal of pride in taking some of these steps to assist our clients in any way possible.

 

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