The SSA denies more than 60 percent of the initial disability claims filed by American workers. Does this mean the end of the road for seeking financial relief? The answer is no, as the SSA gives workers the right to file an appeal that is heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ).
To initiate an ALJ hearing, you should visit the nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) to learn more about the hearing. Scheduling an ALJ hearing can take a considerable amount of time because of the long waiting list of SSDI applicants that had their claims denied.
What Happens During an ALJ Hearing?
When the time comes for your ALJ hearing, you must understand what takes place during the appeal. In a typical courtroom setting, two lawyers go back and forth questioning witnesses, as well as the defendant on trial. An ALJ hearing involves just a judge and your attorney.
The judge asks a series of questions that are more about confirming information than questioning information. You need to be prepared to answer a wide variety of questions posed by the judge presiding over your ALJ hearing, Questions can range from how long you have suffered from heart failure to how the medical condition has limited your performance on the job.
The judge sitting in for your appeal will thoroughly examine the documents you bring to the hearing. Make sure you present accurate information that clearly shows the extent of your heart failure symptoms, and documentation demonstrating how much money the medical condition has cost you in lost wages.
The judge ruling on your appeal should focus on verifying the amount of time you have missed from work because of heart failure.
Tips for Winning an SSDI Appeal
To ensure the judge has enough time to read the documentation you submit during the appeal of your SSDI claim, it is a good idea to submit a legal brief before the hearing that describe the details of your case.
Make sure to submit the brief at least 10 days before the ALJ hearing, as well as attach documentation that proves the diagnosis of heart failure. Asking at least one medical expert to provide testimony as a witness should help your case as well. The most important tip for winning an SSDI claim appeal is to work with a state licensed disability lawyer who has experience winning appeals.
Get a Disability Attorney on Your Side
Hiring a disability attorney gives you the legal representation to present the most convincing case for wining an appeal.
Your lawyer will argue for you in front of the ALJ judge, as well as make sure you exceed the standards listed for diagnosing heart failure as listed in the SSA Blue Book. Your disability advocate will stay on top of your appeal to ensure it is heard in a timely manner.