In 2011 the Social Security Administration is expected to receive more than three million Social Security Disability claims. In the State of Louisiana, more than sixty percent of the initial applications received are denied by the Social Security Administration. These applicants must then pursue the lengthy disability appeal process. The first stage of disability appeals is called a Request for Reconsideration. Only about one-third of Louisiana Social Security Disability applicants will be awarded benefits at this stage of the appeal process. The remaining applicants must request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in order to obtain the disability benefits they may be entitled to.
While some Louisiana Social Security Disability applicants can obtain benefits in just a few months, the majority of applicants wait more than a year before seeing their first payment from the Social Security Administration. This is largely due to the fact that the Social Security Administration has a backlog of applicants appealing denied claims for disability benefits. In the State of Louisiana, it can take anywhere from 356 to 396 days for an applicant to be scheduled for a disability hearing. It then takes another 45 to 90 days before these applicants are notified as to whether or not the judge decided in their favor.
How long you have to wait for a disability hearing depends on which area of Louisiana you live in. The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (also known as ODAR) is the Social Security agency in charge of scheduling hearings for disability applicants. The area that you live in determines which ODAR office handles your disability case. The backlog of that particular ODAR office will determine how long you must wait before obtaining a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The ODAR offices in charge of scheduling the hearings for Louisiana Social Security Disability applicants are as follows:
- Alexandria, Louisiana
- Metairie, Louisiana
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Shreveport, Louisiana
The Alexandria ODAR office manages the Social Security Disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Leesville, Natchitoches, New Iberia, Opelousas and Plaquemine. It takes this office an average of eight months to schedule a disability hearing for a Louisiana Social Security Disability applicant.
The Metairie ODAR office handles the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Bogalusa, Covington, Hammond, Kenner and Metairie. It takes this office an average of 367 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The New Orleans ODAR office schedules the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in DeRidder, Houma, Lake Charles, Morgan City, New Orleans and New Orleans West Bank. It takes this office an average of 356 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The Shreveport ODAR office handles the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Bastrop, Minden, Monroe, Ruston and Shreveport. It takes this office an average of 396 days to schedule a disability hearing.
Hiring a Louisiana Social Security Disability Attorney
Because Louisiana Social Security Disability applicants must wait such extensive periods of time to obtain a disability hearing, many applicants wonder if there is any way to avoid the disability appeal process. While some disability applicants will not be able to avoid the extensive disability appeal process, some individuals may be able to increase their chances of being awarded benefits during the initial stage of the application process. One of the best ways to do this is by retaining the services of a qualified Louisiana Social Security Disability lawyer.
If you hire a Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney, your lawyer will work with you in the preparation of your disability claim. The professional you hire will ensure that your application is prepared properly with the necessary medical evidence. They will also ensure that your claim is presented in the best light possible to the Social Security Administration. If your initial disability application is not approved, your attorney will be able to represent you in your disability appeal.
When filing a disability appeal, your Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney will prepare you for your disability hearing. Your lawyer can tell you what to expect at this hearing and how to respond to questions asked by the Administrative Law Judge presiding over your case. Your lawyer will also ensure that the ALJ is presented with additional medical evidence and, if necessary, expert witness testimony. The disability appeal process is a complicated one, and statistics show that applicants who retain legal representation for their disability hearing are more likely to be awarded benefits. While you are allowed to represent yourself at this hearing, it is not necessarily in your best interest to do so.
click here if you would like to learn more about hiring a Louisiana Social Security Disability lawyer and to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.