If your reconsideration request for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits was denied, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). This gives you an opportunity to present additional evidence, including witness testimony.
However, it can be very difficult to prepare for the ALJ hearing and present a strong case without the help of a Cincinnati Social Security Disability attorney. The lawyers at O'Connor, Acciani & Levy have a detailed understanding of the ALJ hearing process and what it takes to have a chance of overturning the denial of benefits.
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation today to find out if we can help you. We are prepared to guide you through every step of the process and will not charge for our services unless you are awarded benefits.
You must file a request for a hearing by an ALJ within 60 days of receiving the decision on your reconsideration request. When the Social Security Administration (SSA) counts those 60 days, it will assume you received a reconsideration decision in the mail within five days of the date shown on the notice.
If you file an appeal after the 60-day deadline, you will have to explain the reason you are late and the SSA will consider extending the deadline.
You can request a hearing online through the SSA's disability appeal website. The site advises you to gather information and documentation about changes in your treatment or your physical or mental condition since you filed your initial claim, such as:
You can also request a hearing by writing a letter or printing out the hearing request form and mailing or delivering it to your local Social Security office.
You will also need to fill out the following forms:
The first form allows you to provide updated information about your case, including your contact information, changes in your condition, recent medical appointments, recent tests, prescription medications and a narrative section for additional information you want to provide.
The second form authorizes doctors and hospitals to disclose all medical records related to your medical condition to the SSA. The third form gives the name and contact information for the attorney you appointed as your representative.
Our attorneys can help you collect the information you will need to request an ALJ hearing and walk you through every step of the process, whether you are filing online or completing forms and mailing them in. If we find any new evidence we can submit it to the ALJ right away to help ensure it will be considered.
You only have 60 days from the date of your reconsideration request to request a hearing so it is important to contact us as soon as possible. This way we will have plenty of time to gather all relevant information and help build a strong case for why you deserve SSDI benefits.
Your hearing request will be sent to the ALJ Hearing Office and you will receive notice of the date, time and location of your hearing at least 20 days before the hearing itself.
In most cases, the hearing will be within 75 miles of your home. If this is a problem, tell the Social Security office immediately so they can schedule a hearing closer to where you live on a different date.
If the hearing is more than 75 miles away, the SSA can pay for your transportation costs, such as expenses for driving your car or the cost of a bus ticket. If you require meals, lodging or a taxi to make it to the hearing, the ALJ must approve these expenses before your hearing unless they were unavoidable and unexpected.
If you are paid in advance for these expenses, you must give the ALJ an itemized list of your costs and receipts within 20 days of your hearing. If you are not paid in advance, you need to submit a written request to the ALJ at the hearing or soon after.
You can also request payment of travel expenses for your representative or any witnesses the ALJ determines are necessary for the hearing.
If you are unable to travel due to your health, you must submit a doctor's report when you request a hearing. The report needs to explain the reasons why you cannot travel. It may be possible to schedule a hearing by video teleconference.
Your attorney can review your situation to help you work out any issues you have traveling to your hearing. We will help you pursue any compensation you are owed for travel expenses.
One of the biggest advantages of hiring an attorney is that he or she can prepare you for the ALJ hearing by explaining what you should expect, including the types of questions you might be asked.
Your hearing will not take place in a courtroom. It will likely be held in a small conference room and the judge will not be wearing a black robe like you would see in a courtroom.
The ALJ will explain the issues with your request for SSDI benefits and possibly question you and any witnesses you and your attorney bring to the hearing. The ALJ may ask other witnesses to come to the hearing, like a doctor or vocational expert, and question them. Your attorney can also question you and any of the witnesses present at the hearing.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will usually ask if you would like to make any additional comments about the case.
After that, the hearing will be concluded and the judge will send you and your attorney a written decision within about 30 days. There are rare cases where the ALJ will issue a decision at the hearing itself.
If you are not granted benefits, you can file another request for reconsideration. If this is denied, you can file a request for another hearing.
Your attorney can carefully review your case to determine questions you might be asked and the best way to respond to those questions so you can help, not hurt, your case.
Some best practices for answering questions at an ALJ hearing include:
Our disability lawyers can rehearse your part in the hearing so you are prepared for questions and get practice answering them.
The ALJ hearing is a very important step in the process of obtaining disability benefits. If you are not successful at this stage, you may have a slim chance of receiving benefits.
This is why it is so important to work with a skilled attorney who is familiar with the process and can help you build a strong case.
Our attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis so there is no charge for your consultation and we do not collect legal fees unless you are awarded benefits.
Contact our attorneys today to review your situation.
With a proven track record of success that has resulted in our team of legal professionals recovering tens of millions in compensation for our clients, we work quickly to obtain a fair and just result for your case.
We also offer complimentary consultations to determine the merits of your claim and in most instances, we only get paid when we obtain a recovery on your behalf.
Contact the personal injury lawyers at O'Connor, Acciani & Levy today for a free case evaluation to discuss your claim.