While millions of people apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies thousands of these claims. When a claim for disability benefits is denied, a person may be left not knowing where to turn or what options they have.
If you’ve applied for SSDI or SSI disability benefits and your claim has been denied, all hope is not lost. You have a right to ask for reconsideration. One of the most important steps in the process is the hearing.
What is a disability hearing?
A disability hearing is actually the second step in the appeals process and is only necessary in the event that you request a reconsideration of your claim, and the reconsideration is denied.
If your reconsideration is denied, then you have the right to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). During the hearing, you will have the chance to present your disability case.
How to Request a Disability Hearing with an ALJ in Pennsylvania
The time limit for an appeal is 60 days after you receive notice that your claim has been denied. If you don’t request a hearing within 60 days, you may forfeit your rights to appeal.
To have an ALJ hear your case, you or your legal representative will have to request the hearing using SSA-approved forms. The two forms required are the SSA-3441 Disability Report — Appeal form and the SSA-827 Authorization to Disclose Information to SSA form. If an attorney or other representative is handling your case, you will also need to complete a SSA-1696 Appointment of Representative form.
All three forms are very detailed, and you are not allowed to leave any answers blank. Additionally, only you or your representative can complete the forms.
What to Expect During a Social Security Disability Hearing
After you submit your request for hearing by an ALJ, you should receive a notification of the date and time of your hearing from the SSA within 20 days. Once your hearing date is set, it’s time to prepare yourself for what will happen during the hearing.
During the hearing, the ALJ will ask you a variety of questions about your medical condition. Often, these questions are personal and detailed and may include questions ranging from the date you became disabled to your degree of physical limitation and the treatment that you currently receive for your medical condition. Other people, including doctors and witnesses of your medical condition, may be called to the stand and submitted to similar scrutiny.
In addition to having to answer questions, you or your legal representative will have the opportunity to ask questions to anyone who can help prove you qualify for disability benefits. You may call medical professionals or any other relevant witnesses to the stand to help build your case.
The ALJ makes the decision about your benefits without a jury. The judge will issue a written decision that you will receive in the mail following the conclusion of the hearing.
How a Social Security Disability Attorney Helps at an ALJ Hearing
The disability hearing process requires a thorough understanding of disability law, as well as the patience and diligence to complete all forms correctly and thoroughly. A Social Security disability attorney not only helps you file a Request for Hearing after receiving an unfavorable reconsideration decision, but he will also strengthen your case with additional evidence and help you practice for the tough questions you will likely be asked during the hearing.
Attorney Patrick J. Best of ARM Lawyers, can help you get the benefits you need today. To get started on building your case, call us today at 570-257-4509 (Stroudsburg), 484-765-8140 (Palmerton) or 610-849-2788 (Bethlehem).