It is not unusual for the Social Security Administration to deny first-time applications for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. In fact, in 2018, SSA officers rejected or denied more than half the SSDI benefits applications they received.
If you receive a benefits denial, you should not panic. After all, you can file a request for reconsideration and supplement your request with additional documentation. If that does not work, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
A formal hearing
When you arrive at your SSDI benefits hearing, you should expect to find a formal setting. Along with the ALJ, the SSA may have its own attorney. Vocational and medical witnesses may also be present. Fortunately, the hearing typically lasts an hour or less.
Before your hearing, your attorney should explain the types of questions you are likely to face. Your lawyer may ask you about your disability, your work history and your work impairments. The ALJ and the government’s attorney may also have questions for you.
Sometimes, the ALJ needs additional information to determine whether you qualify for SSDI benefits. Medical and vocational professionals may be able to fill in the gaps. During their testimony, your attorney may ask follow-up questions.
Typically, ALJs render their decisions within 60 days of the hearing. You should receive a letter notifying you of the outcome of your case. If the ALJ approves your benefits application, you should receive funds quickly. If you receive a denial, though, you have additional appellate options.
While attending an ALJ hearing may be intimidating, it is a normal part of the SSDI process for many applicants. Ultimately, by taking the hearing seriously and preparing yourself for it, you may improve your odds of securing a favorable outcome.