Nearly two-thirds of all initial SSDI applications receive the stamp of denial from the SSA. However, SSDI applicants have a second chance to make a positive first impression by filing an appeal that is heard by an administrative law judge.
Almost 50% of SSDI application appeals receive approval from the SSA. The appeal process is called an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing that allows SSDI applicants to follow up the first application with more convincing evidence.
The first thing on your to do list is to visit the nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) office to schedule an appointment. A visit to the closest ODAR office also allows you to learn how to prepare for your ALJ hearing. If the judge presiding over your case approves your SSDI application, you become immediately eligible to start receiving financial assistance.
What You Should Expect from an ALJ Hearing
A judge overseeing an administrative law case asks questions to the claimant. The questions you should expect from the judge presiding over your ALJ hearing should center around the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of your herniated disc.
The judge should ask questions pertaining to your job, such as what are your job duties and how the herniated disc negatively impacts your work performance.
You must be ready not only to discuss your work limitations, but also submit evidence in the form of a confirmation from your employer that the herniated disc makes it impossible to hold down a steady job. The judge should not be confrontational, so there is no need to take the judge’s questions personally.
Tips for Winning Your Appeal
One of the most important tips for an ALJ hearing is you have to make a direct connection between the serious symptoms caused by a herniated disc and your inability to complete most, if not all of your job functions. All the judge wants to see is evidence that your job requires actions that a herniated disc prevents from happening.
Make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the ALJ hearing. If you arrive even a few minutes late to the hearing, the judge might have already dismissed your case. Prompt arrival demonstrates you are serious about receiving financial help for suffering from a herniated disc. Above all, hire a disability attorney to boost your chances of winning the appeal.
Work with a Social Security Attorney
If you did not receive legal assistance from a state licensed disability lawyer during the first go around with the SSA, it is imperative that you retain legal counsel for the ALJ hearing. Your lawyer will conduct a free case evaluation to determine what elements of your SSDI application needs a boost of evidential support.
In addition, a disability attorney can provide sound advice about how you should respond to the questions posed by the administrative law judge. After you submit your request for an ALJ hearing, your lawyer monitors the progress of the request to ensure you receive a response in a timely manner.