If your initial Social Security disability claim has been denied, you have likely been left feeling confused and frustrated. Please know that you are not alone. According to data collected and published by the Social Security Administration (SSA), less than 30 percent of all disability claims are approved following an initial review. Yet, nearly 45 percent of all claims are eventually approved.
This raises an obvious question: Why is there such a large gap? The answer is because many mistakes are made during the initial claims process, sometimes by applicants and sometimes by the SSA. If your claim has been denied, you need to keep fighting for your benefits. Here, our experienced Chicago Social Security disability attorneys discuss one of the most important aspects of the SSDI appeals process: The administrative law hearing.
Administrative Law Judge Hearings: Three Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Process for Requesting a Hearing?
After you submit your initial SSDI application, you will need to wait for a decision that comes in the mail. If the decision is adverse, then your first step of appeal is to ask for a ‘reconsideration’. Essentially, this means that your file will be looked at again by a fresh pair of eyes at the SSA.
If your claim is denied after a reconsideration, then you will need to request an administrative. This hearing can be requested by submitting a form online or by mail. Note that you must submit your request for a hearing within 60 days of receiving a decision from the SSA. The failure to act in the time period may result in your request for an ALJ hearing being denied.
What Actually Happens During the Hearing?
The ALJ hearing is extremely important. Indeed, during it, you will have the opportunity to submit evidence regarding any issue related to your claim. In their denial letter, the SSA must tell you precisely why they rejected your disability claim. This means that you will have a chance to directly address whatever perceived problem there is with your application at your administrative hearing by presenting evidence on the issue. More specifically, you may:
- Bring witnesses;
- Submit testimony from experts; and
- Present additional medical documents or evidence.
Is the Administrative Law Judge’s Decision Final?
No. The administrative hearing is merely the second step in the four step appeals process. After going through a hearing with an ALJ, you can request to have the judge’s decision reviewed by an appeals council. If you are still unhappy with the result of that review, you may then file a lawsuit in federal court.
Contact Our Office Today
At the Comerford Law Office, LLC, we have extensive experience handling Social Security disability claims. If your benefits were denied, we can help. To request a free review of your claim, please Call us today at (312) 863-8572 or reach out to us directly online. From our office in Chicago, we serve communities throughout the region, including Evanston, Skokie and Wilmette.