After your application for reconsideration of your Social Security Disability claim has been denied, you have a right to file a request for hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Due to the large number of appeals, an ALJ hearing may not be scheduled earlier than two (2) years after the request for hearing has been filed. In our local district, waiting time for the ALJ hearing is normally one and a half (1 ½ ) year from requesting the hearing.
In making a determination of your disability claim, the ALJ will hear the testimony of witnesses and consider evidence, such as your medical records. You will be expected to attend the hearing (unless you have a very good reason not to) and you or your attorney may call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Most ALJs do not require or happily receive witness testimony other than the claimant.
The ALJ may ask medical doctors or vocational experts hired by the Social Security Administration to appear as witnesses and offer their opinion on such matters as your medical condition and how it may affect your ability to be employed, whether you can perform your previous job, and whether there are any other jobs that a person in your condition may be able to perform, considering your age, education, prior work experience and residual functional capacity. Your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the Social Security Administration’s expert witnesses and challenge any weaknesses or oversights in their positions.
Your best chance to prove your disability is at the hearing before the ALJ; therefore you have a much better chance of getting your Social Security disability claim approved if you are represented by an attorney who has experience with disability hearings and knowledge of Social Security law.
Following the hearing, the ALJ will render a written decision within a few months. ALJs very rarely announce their decision at the hearing.
Most claimants are understandably discouraged by the lengthy disability application process. While the waiting time is excessive and depressing, successful claimants also recognize the need to remain optimistic and keep fighting for your rights during the long wait.
Attorney David Gantt has been advocating for disabled clients throughout Western North Carolina since 1981. He represents claimants throughout the entire disability process, including at the administrative law judge hearings. If you reside in Asheville or Western North Carolina, and need representation in a Social Security case, please call our office at 828-252-2852. We do not charge any fees unless we are successful in winning your Social Security benefits. All conferences are free based on the contingency fees after a favorable decision.