A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge often provides SSDI applicants in Buckhead with the best opportunity to demonstrate that they qualify to receive benefits. While staff members at the Social Security Administration (SSA) are bound to apply standards in a very strict formulation, administrative law judges often approach a decision with more discretion to take into consideration the full circumstances. Statistically, it is more likely to be approved for disability benefits by an Administrative Law Judge then by an adjudicator at the local SSA office.
However, to succeed at a Buckhead SSDI hearing, it is crucial to prepare and to follow proper procedures. The hearing usually represents the last stage in the process for presenting new evidence to support a claim, so it is wise to ensure that the best available documentation and testimony are offered at the hearing. Guidance from an experienced SSDI law firm can prove valuable in the process.
Requesting a Hearing
An applicant for SSDI benefits may not request a hearing until after seeking a reconsideration, which is the first appeal after an applicant for benefits is denied. Agency staff review a file during a reconsideration and may consider new evidence, but they often reach the same conclusion and send another denial notice.
After receiving the denial on reconsideration, an applicant has 60 days to request an SSDI hearing. The request must be put in writing, but it may be submitted online or through the mail.
Logistics of an SSDI Hearing
After an applicant files a hearing request, the SSA will send the file to the hearing office of the administrative law judge. Because of the high demand for SSDI hearings, the agency often tries to conduct hearings via video teleconference to save time.
An applicant may request a hearing in person at a hearing office but may need to wait longer for an in-person hearing than for a video hearing. Buckhead is in SSA Office of Hearing Operations Region 4, which is headquartered in Atlanta. The closest hearing offices are located in downtown Atlanta and Alpharetta.
What to Expect during an SSDI Hearing
A Buckhead SSDI hearing is less formal than a courtroom trial but similar in many respects. Both the applicant and any witnesses who testify will be speaking under oath and statements will be recorded.
The Administrative Law Judge will usually begin by summarizing the issues based on the information in the case file. The judge is likely to ask questions of the applicant and witnesses presented by both sides. The Social Security Administration may present expert witnesses to testify regarding vocational opportunities or disability limitations, and the applicant has the right to question these witnesses.
After the hearing, the judge will consider all the evidence before issuing a written decision. If the decision is unsatisfactory, the applicant may request a review by the SSA Appeals Council.
Legal Assistance with a Buckhead SSDI Hearing
Although an SSDI hearing is relatively informal by legal standards, claimants requesting a hearing will not succeed if they fail to follow proper procedures and meet application deadlines. Working with a skilled disability advocate before a Buckhead SSDI hearing can prevent many missteps that might jeopardize your right to benefits.