A hearing before an administrative judge often provides the best opportunity for applicants to demonstrate that they meet the requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. While perhaps not quite as intimidating as a major courtroom trial, an Atlanta SSI hearing is a recorded legal proceeding and those appearing at the hearing must comply with legal requirements.
In order to make the most of their opportunity, many applicants choose to work with an experienced SSI lawyer. An attorney can assist with preparation for the hearing and provide guidance and representation during the hearing. If the judge renders an unfavorable ruling, legal counsel can also help continue with the appeals process.
What are the Prerequisites to an SSI Hearing?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) — the agency that manages the SSI program — has certain procedures applicants must follow to receive a hearing. First, they must submit an application for SSI, receive a denial, then request a reconsideration.
Only after receiving a response after a reconsideration may an applicant then request an Atlanta SSI hearing. However, the request must be made within 60 days or the judge might dismiss the appeal.
When preparing for an SSI hearing in Atlanta, it is crucial to pay attention to the wording in the notices denying the initial application for benefits. The notice should explain the specific reason for the unfavorable decision, so the applicant should prepare evidence to refute this reasoning.
In many cases, SSI applications are denied because the applicant failed to demonstrate the severity of a disability or show how that disability prevents them from working. An experienced SSI lawyer can help obtain persuasive evidence to explain why an applicant qualifies to receive benefits. If at all possible, this evidence should be submitted well in advance of the hearing to give the judge time to review it.
A judge may accept additional evidence presented during the hearing, but it might not receive full consideration. After the hearing, it is usually not possible to add further evidence, so it is usually important to prepare documentation early in the process.
The Hearing Site
The SSA currently has a substantial demand for hearings, so to speed up the process, the agency is conducting many hearings by video teleconference with the applicant in one hearing room and the judge in another some distance away. An applicant may usually request a hearing in person instead, but that request could delay the scheduling of a hearing.
In most cases, an Atlanta SSI hearing will be conducted within 75 miles of the applicant’s home. If travel presents a problem, it is important to notify the agency as soon as possible for accommodation.
What Can a Person Expect During an SSI Hearing?
The administrative law judge typically begins a hearing by explaining the issues under contention in the case. They would then ask questions of the applicant as well as witnesses.
The SSA’s attorney would present the reasons for their decision and may bring witnesses such as vocational experts to support their conclusions. Following that, the applicant would have the opportunity to question those witnesses, either on their own or through an attorney.
After asking questions and listening to information presented, the judge would formulate an opinion and issue a written decision. The applicant may not receive this opinion for some time after the hearing.
Get Help with an Atlanta SSI Hearing from an Attorney
Statements made in an Atlanta SSI hearing will be under oath and will be recorded. The process is a serious matter and the outcome can have a significant impact on your life, so it is wise to make the most of your opportunities.
A knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that you are prepared to make the best possible case to support your claim. For more information about the hearing process or your right to representation during agency proceedings, get in touch with our team today.