If your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) got denied, you have a right to appeal that decision. There are four levels of appeal that we specialize in here at Disability Law Group:
- Request a reconsideration of the decision
- Have a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ)
- Get a review by the Appeals Council
- File for a review by a federal court
If you have a hearing scheduled with an administrative law judge, it could be useful to know what to expect at your SSD/SSI appeals hearing. An experienced Michigan SSD/SSI attorney could help you through all four levels of appeal.
The Appeals Hearing
Once you request a hearing on your appeal, the Social Security Administration (SSA) might ask you to give them more information about your claim or to clarify things in your file. Also, you can take a look at the items in your file and add new information.
You can have a representative attend the hearing with you. An attorney who has extensive experience specializing in disability claims can help you at every step of the way, including at the hearing to be sure your file is complete, supportive evidence is obtained, and all relevant arguments are presented. You can have medical or vocational experts participate in the hearing. In most adult hearings, a vocational expert will be part of the process to provide testimony. The administrative law judge will question you during the hearing and any witnesses you may have at the hearing. You or your representative may also ask questions of any of the witnesses.
The hearing follows a structure similar to that of a traditional hearing in a courtroom. However, unlike the trials that you see on TV, or may have experience with yourself, the disability hearings before an administrative law judge are much more informal. Whether your hearing takes place in person or by video teleconference, or even by phone in some cases, it is usually to your advantage to be a part of the hearing so that you have the opportunity to present testimony to support your case and give additional helpful details.
People seldom get a decision from the judge at the hearing. The judge will review any new information you submitted as well as the file on record, your testimony, and the testimony of any witnesses who participated in the hearing. The judge will make a ruling and write a decision. The SSA will send you a letter and a copy of the decision.
Types of SSD/SSI Appeals Hearings
Typically, the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) holds SSD/SSI appeals hearings in person or by video teleconference. If you have extremely unusual circumstances, you might be able to have your hearing by telephone. While an in-person hearing is typically most ideal, there may be some situations where a video or telephone hearing may be recommended. However, each option presents unique differences and it is important to consult with an experienced attorney about the advantages or disadvantages given your situation and the facts of your case before making your decision.
COVID-19 and SSD/SSI Hearings
Because of COVID-19, the traditional ways of handling hearings have changed temporarily. You will want to confer with your lawyer to find out how and where and how your hearing will take place. Also, please the procedures outlined in this article might get changed temporarily because of COVID-19. Our attorneys are staying up-to-date on policy changes with each Social Security and hearing office, and are taking advantage of new options and technologies to expedite and optimize the process for our clients.
Appeals Hearing About Medical and Non-Medical Determinations
If you were denied benefits and the SSA ruled against you in the reconsideration, you can request a hearing, either for a medical determination or a non-medical determination. The administrative law judge who handles your hearing will not have participated in any earlier stage of the process. At a hearing, new evidence can be obtained and submitted to help support your case and ensure that you are being given your day in court.
Most people have to go through at least one stage of appeals to get SSD/SSI benefits. Contact one of our disability attorneys today. Our Michigan SSD/SSI attorneys can help you go after the benefits you deserve.