Each and every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) processes millions of requests for Social Security Disability benefits. Of these, a mere 30 percent are approved at the initial stage of the disability application process. The remaining 70 percent of applicants must go on to file an appeal in order to receive the Social Security Disability benefits they need. The first stage of the appeal process is called a Request for Reconsideration. Unfortunately, more than 80 percent of initial appeals are denied. The second stage of appeals is the disability hearing. The good news is that nearly two-thirds of appeals are decided in favor of the applicant at this stage of the process; however, you must know how to file for a hearing in order to have your disability case heard before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The following information can help you understand the hearing process and how to file for a hearing in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
When to File for Your Hearing
Once you file a request for reconsideration with the SSA, it will usually take three to four months for the SSA to review your request. If your request for reconsideration is denied (more than 80 percent of requests are), then you will have sixty days from the date you receive the determination in order to appeal the decision. This is when you will request a Social Security Disability hearing before an ALJ.
While you technically have 60 days to file this appeal, you should do so as soon as possible rather than waiting the full 60 days. There is a significant backlog of Social Security Disability applicants requesting to have their case heard before an ALJ. Sometimes it can take years before an applicant actually gets their day in court. The sooner you file your appeal, the sooner you will receive a date for your Social Security Disability hearing. However, before you file an appeal, you need to consider meeting with a disability attorney.
Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer
If you need to have your disability case heard before an ALJ, you should consider retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney (if you haven't done so already). While you are allowed to represent yourself at your hearing, some things are best left for the professionals to handle. An attorney can help gather the evidence needed to prove your disability case and will ensure that the right questions are asked and the right facts are considered during your disability hearing. Statistics show that applicants who are represented by attorneys at the hearing stage of the appeal process are more likely to win their claim for Social Security Disability benefits than those applicants who do not have legal representation.
When hiring an attorney to represent you during your hearing, you will not need to file the paperwork necessary to file your appeal since your attorney will be handling this for you. If you decide to represent yourself, you will need to understand how to file your request for a disability hearing.
Requesting Your Social Security Disability Hearing
If you will not be working with a Social Security Disability attorney and wish to have your case heard before an ALJ, you will want to contact the Social Security Office in order to request the proper appeal forms. Make sure these forms are submitted prior to the 60-day appeal deadline or you will need to re-apply for benefits all over again.
After Your Request Has Been Submitted
Once you or your Social Security Disability attorney has filed a request for a hearing before an ALJ, the Social Security Office will forward your request to the nearest Office of Hearings and Appeals. After this office has received your request, your case will be assigned to an ALJ. This judge will schedule a hearing date for you.
The amount of time it takes to receive your hearing date will depend on the backlog of applications in your particular area. In some cities it only takes a few months to receive a disability hearing. In other areas it may take as long as two years. It is crucial that you keep your hearing date once it has been scheduled. If you miss your hearing, you may have to wait months to receive another hearing or you may be denied benefits altogether.