SSDI Hearing Before ALJ
After applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the financial and emotional stress of managing a long-term disability, compounded with the inability to work, can make your wait for a decision a difficult time. If you have gone through the application process, only to receive a denial after months of waiting, you are not alone. An estimated 70% of applications for SSDI benefits are denied at the initial claim stage. Fortunately, you do have the opportunity to appeal that determination and advocate for your right to benefits with the assistance of an attorney. At the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith, our legal team has represented clients in SSDI matters for over 30 years. Social Security lawyer Russell J. Goldsmith has the experience necessary to help you with an SSDI appeal.Hearings Before an Administrative Law Judge
In most states, if your initial application for SSDI benefits is denied, the next step is to file a request for reconsideration. If the reconsideration is denied, you may then file a request for an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. In New Hampshire and some other states, however, applicants can appeal from the initial denial directly for an ALJ hearing, as described below. In all circumstances, the notice of initial determination provides instructions as to how one can appeal in their specific state and situation.
If you disagree with the reconsideration determination or reside in a state with a revised appeal process (such as is the case in New Hampshire), the next step is to request a hearing before an ALJ, either by filing a Request for Hearing Form or by writing to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is important that the request for an ALJ hearing be filed within 60 days of receiving notice of the determination.
Throughout every stage of the application and appeals process, you may obtain the services of an attorney to represent you. Although the hearing is relatively informal, many applicants feel more comfortable with a Social Security attorney to represent them at the ALJ hearing. Our legal team can handle ALJ hearings by submitting all of the paperwork for the appeal and hearing, writing briefs, and gathering any additional evidence necessary: Attorney Russell Goldsmith has been advocating for New England’s disabled at such hearings for more than 30 years.
Our team will review your claim file well in advance of any hearing, and will determine what important records are missing from the file (so that these can be timely obtained and submitted). We will ensure that any recent medical records will likewise be available to the ALJ assigned to your case. While the hearing office provides individuals the opportunity for a hearing via video teleconference, we always advise our clients to object to this process for a number of reasons: 1) your case may very well be assigned to a judge in another region of the country (and one whom we may not be aware of) and 2) you will not be face to face with a judge, but rather would appear on a video screen in what is a rather impersonal process in our opinion. At the hearing, we will have the opportunity to present testimonial evidence from you and others on your behalf in support of your claim. The ALJ may also call witnesses to appear at the hearing, such as vocational or medical experts, and question you and any of the witnesses testifying at the hearing. Your legal team likewise will have an opportunity to question the ALJ’s witnesses in response to the ALJ’s questioning, and will be able to make arguments both orally and in writing on your behalf both during and after the hearing.
In the vast majority of cases, our legal team will request what is called an On the Record request by way of a legal brief, well in advance of the hearing, asking that the ALJ consider providing you a fully favorable decision prior to the need to attend a hearing and based on the evidence in the file. In the brief, we explain the reasons why the evidence (both medical and other written evidence in the file) supports a fully favorable decision without the need for your testimony. Many times, these briefs dispense with the need to attend a hearing (for numerous examples of such cases, please take a look at our success stories online). As you’ll see here, many of our clients have been spared the need to attend a hearing as a result of our legal briefs.
At the hearing level, the ALJ will review your SSDI claim de novo (meaning “as of new”: this means your case will be reviewed without consideration of the findings made in the initial and reconsideration determinations). Assuming it is necessary to go to the hearing itself, the ALJ typically will issue a written decision, either in your favor (partially or fully favorable), or unfavorable within a few weeks to a few months following the hearing. If you do not agree with the decision of the ALJ, you will have the opportunity to appeal that decision by filing an Appeals Council review request within 60 days of receiving notice of the decision.Discuss Your SSDI Case with a Knowledgeable Lawyer
An experienced Social Security attorney can guide and assist you throughout an SSDI benefits application and appeals proceeding by explaining the process to you and filing all of the necessary paperwork. At the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith, we take pride in providing our clients with personalized attention and honest evaluations of their claims. Schedule a free consultation by calling our offices at 1-800-773-8622 or contacting us online.