Social Security Disability Hearing Process

How is Appeal for SSDI Hearing Processed?

You request a hearing to appeal a denial at reconsideration or if you are denied at application in a state that does not have reconsideration. Again, how to appeal will be in your denial letter and you request a hearing at your local SSA office (SSA field office). After you submit your request for hearing with all the paperwork and information that is required your file is then sent to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) this is also commonly referred to as the hearing office. When a hearing office receives the file from the local SSA office you will receive notice that they are received your request for a hearing and you will be given the general time frame as to when you might expect to get a hearing date. There are several ODAR's throughout the country and in most cases your file will be sent to the hearing office that handles claims that were appealed from your local SSA office, however, in an effort to reduce the backlog of cases at some ODAR's your file may be sent to another hearing office somewhere else. When you receive the acknowledgment of your request for hearing it will have the hearing office address where your file will be. These hearing offices are separate and independent of the Social Security office and DDS will your claim was initially decided. The wait for hearing date can be extremely long. When your file is received by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review that is handling your claim it will then be "worked up". This means someone at that office will review the file to make sure it is ready for hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing office may request more medical evidence from you or your doctors and they may also send you to one or more consultative medical exams by doctors paid for by Social Security. The hearing office will also get a detailed report of your work earnings. The hearing office will also organize your file into sections and all documents are given exhibit numbers. There are lawyers at ODAR who have the authority to issue favorable decisions before a hearing. These Social Security lawyers will sometimes do this on their own for a case that is very strong or it often happens when your attorney request an on the record decision (OTR) in the form of a brief which details why are disabled without the need for a hearing. If you are not approved before the hearing then when it is your turn and the hearing office feels your file is ready you will be given a hearing date. When you get the notice of hearing letter it will tell you the date, time, location and ALJ that will be handling your case. It will also contain other information such as the issue(s) that will be decided at the hearing and if there will be a medical expert or vocational expert at the hearing as well. If you do not speak English or have difficulty with the English language it will also notify you that an interpreter will be present. The notice of hearing will also notify you of your right to have a lawyer or representative with you at the hearing. On this page I will not be explaining what happens at a Social Security disability hearing but you can find more information at the link in this sentence.  If you follow the previous link it should answer your disability hearing questions not addressed on this page. In most cases, you will not get a decision the day of the hearing. It usually takes 1 to 2 months and sometimes longer to get a decision. Your decision will say fully favorable (win all you were trying to get and eligible for), partially favorable (win but not everything you were trying to get or were eligible for) or unfavorable (you lost your case). If you win your case then your file is sent back to your local Social Security office to determine your benefits. If you lose at hearing the decision will explain how to appeal the decision made by the ALJ to the Appeals Council.