SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is a federal program that provides financial aid to individuals who can no longer maintain their employment or support themselves due to disability. Unfortunately, many SSDI claims are disputed every year due to the large number of requests. In Georgia, a disabled person has an approximately thirty percent chance of having their initial application approved.
Because so few claims are accepted, SSDI hearings are important in that they provide claimants the opportunity to appeal their disputed application. If you are disabled and seeking financial aid through the Social Security program, speak with an experienced attorney about SSDI hearings in Fulton County and their role in the appeal process.
In Fulton County, a disabled person may apply for disability benefits either online or at the local Social Security field office. One the application is received, representatives from the Social Security Administration (SSA) review the claim and determine the claimant’s eligibility for benefits. If their eligibility is disputed, the claimant may appeal the decision.
There are several levels of appeal. First, an applicant may request that the SSA reconsider its initial decision. This reconsideration is simply a review of the information in the original claim and does not involve a hearing.
If the claimant receives notice from the SSA that their initial claim was disputed, and the reconsideration was also found unfavorable, they have sixty days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing is essentially a second chance for the disable person to present their claim.
The agency in charge of managing SSDI hearings is the Office of Disability and Adjudication Review (ODAR). There are six ODAR offices in Georgia, and the specific location of the hearing depends on where the claimant resides. The Fulton County offices may be found here.
At an SSDI hearing in Fulton County, a judge appointed by the SSA will preside over the proceedings. The judge, the claimant, the claimant’s attorney, Vocational Experts, and any witnesses for either the claimant or the SSA will be present. The claimant is expected to explain the nature of their disability to the judge and describe how it impacts their ability to work and earn an income.
The claimant may also have witnesses testify regarding the disability. Often, the claimant’s doctor or another medical expert familiar with their condition will serve as witnesses at the hearing. All witnesses will testify under oath and are expected to answer truthfully. On the other side, the SSA’s attorney may question both the claimant and their witnesses and present evidence to the judge that supports the disputation of benefits.
After the hearing, the judge will review all the evidence presented and render a decision. Generally, the judge does not make a ruling immediately after the hearing. In Georgia, a claimant may have to wait between 45 and 90 days after the hearing to receive the court’s final decision.
If you are suffering from a life-altering disability, the various requirements of appealing a claims decision can feel difficult, if not impossible. The process may involve compiling and organizing medical records, completing detailed application forms, keeping track of deadlines for filing certain legal documents. Even more challenging is appearing before a judge, correctly following all court rules, and effectively presenting the relevant medical records and treatment documentation.
Because of the legal complexity, assistance from an attorney who focuses on SSDI hearings could make all the difference in appealing a decision. A well-prepared lawyer could familiarize the claimant with the questions they may be asked in a hearing and help ensure that the judge receives the necessary evidence to accurately assess the disability claim. For more information on how a skilled attorney could assist with SSDI hearings in Fulton County, contact our firm today.