If you have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or your benefits have been reduced or discontinued, you can appeal the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
While there are other phases of appeals, the probability of reaching a successful outcome is much higher in a hearing than in other stages of the appellate process. Understanding what happens at an Atlanta SSDI hearing can help increase your chances of receiving an award of benefits. Assistance and representation from an experienced Social Security disability law firm can reduce the likelihood of making mistakes or missing opportunities during the hearing process.
In an SSDI appeal, the goal is to assert that SSA staff members made the wrong decision on an applicant’s eligibility to receive disability benefits. Most cases center on the issue of whether an individual’s impairment meets the standards of a total, long-term disability.
At an Atlanta SSDI hearing, the ALJ will look at the case and consider whether the claimant is disabled and unable to work based on a preponderance of evidence. A preponderance of evidence is equivalent to deciding whether it is more likely than not that an assertion is true.
An SSDI hearing in Atlanta is not conducted with the same formality as a courtroom trial, but it is important to remember that individuals presenting information will be speaking under oath and that any information they divulge will be recorded. In most SSDI hearings, the ALJ begins by explaining the issues under contention and subsequently asking questions to determine the applicant’s level of impairment.
An attorney could prepare a claimant for questioning and provide guidance on the best way to answer the ALJ’s potential questions. These questions usually involve information about the person’s medical impairment and treatment for that condition, how the disability limits their activities, and the types of employment they performed in the past.
The ALJ may ask for the opinions of vocational experts or question witnesses appearing on behalf of the claimant. Often, the SSA contracts vocational experts as impartial witnesses to testify on the ability for a hypothetical individual to perform jobs in the national economy.
Many hearings are held in SSA offices, and increasingly, the agency is encouraging claimants to allow their cases to be heard by a judge over videoconference. While a video hearing may enable a claim to be heard sooner, there can be disadvantages to a video hearing. If the SSA proposes a video hearing, it is a good idea to discuss the pros and cons with an experienced legal advocate.
One of our team members can also assist with preparing and submitting evidence to strengthen your case. If the ALJ denies the claim after the hearing, you may request a review by the Social Security Administration Appeals Council. To learn more about what happens at an Atlanta SSDI hearing, reach out to our team today.