When Your Disability Appeal Goes To An Administrative Hearing
If the Social Security Administration (SSA) has denied your application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the next step may be an administrative hearing.
We are Richard A. Gutstadt and Eric J. Patrick of Richard A. Gutstadt, P.C., and we have more than 50 years of combined experience solely handling SSD and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) cases. We are available to answer your questions about your appeal and administrative hearing such as the following:
How Do I Request A Hearing Before An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?
Your appeal must be in writing online or through a letter by mail. If you need help, you can ask the SSA to help or work with a representative of your own, such as a lawyer.
Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer?
This is not required but it is encouraged. You have the right to representation by an attorney or another helper. Working with an experienced SSDI attorney will reassure you that your appeal is compelling and meets all requirements.
How Long Do I Have To File An Appeal?
The SSA allows you 60 days plus up to five days for mail delivery to appeal after receiving a letter of denial, so the deadline is 65 days from the time the agency mails it to you. Ideally, however, after you receive a denial, you should file your appeal as soon as possible.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Speed Up The Hearing Process?
- Submit an appeal promptly.
- Get a lawyer’s help.
- You should submit any new or updated medical evidence to the SSA at least five working days before your hearing date.
- If you move after filing your appeal, notify the SSA immediately.
Where Are Hearings Held And What Happens During A Hearing?
You will receive written notice with the date and location at least 75 days before the hearing. Your hearing will be assigned to one of 169 hearing offices nationwide, determined by your corresponding local Field Office. If you have compelling impediments to travel, let the SSA know. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can “opt in” for a phone hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). Other hearings may be in person or through a video teleconference. Ask an SSDI attorney about your best option and what happens at these hearings.
Do I Have To Appear In Person?
No, but you have the right to do so, or you may request that your case be decided without an in-person hearing. Some applicants agree to a Video Teleconference (VTC) hearing. These days, because of the coronavirus pandemic, hearings are only being held by telephone, with the applicant’s permission.
Should I Appear At A Phone Hearing?
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, if an applicant agrees, all hearings are conducted by telephone by an ALJ. Whether to have a phone or in-the-room hearing is a strategic judgment. For one, in declining a phone hearing, there is no guarantee how long a person may have to wait before in person hearing will be re-scheduled. My office generally agrees to phone hearings about two-thirds of the time.
Some cases are strong enough on the medical evidence alone to proceed. However, it is important to consider that each ALJ has his or her own disability philosophy. Many applicants opt for video teleconferenced hearings.
How Will I Find Out If My Claim Has Been Approved?
The ALJ will send you (and your representative, if you have one) a copy of his or her decision or dismissal.