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The Disability Hearing

Winning Your Social Security Disability Administrative Hearing

You are certainly not alone if your application for disability benefits has been denied. About three out of four claimants are turned down on the initial application, and those who submit their denied claims for Reconsideration fare even worse.

The third step of the claims process, a hearing before an administrative law judge, represents your best chance to get approved for Social Security Disability. More than half of all claimants who get an ALJ hearing are approved, and those who are represented by an attorney have an even greater success rate, on average. At Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC, we aim to make the most of this opportunity.

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If your claim has been rejected, let us take it from here. The skilled and compassionate Social Security Disability attorneys of Hoglund Law have prevailed in disability hearings across Ohio. Call day or night at 855-513-4844.

The Administrative Law Judge Hearing

The administrative hearing is usually the first opportunity to speak to someone in person who has the ability to approve your claim. At the hearing, a claimant is allowed to introduce new evidence in support of his or her claim, raise objections to evidence contained in the file, offer testimony, make legal arguments and cross-examine expert witnesses. It is for these reasons that hiring an attorney is such an important step.

Due to administrative delays and case backlogs, it typically takes 16 to 24 months from the date you request a hearing before your case is actually heard. It is important that you keep seeing your doctors during this long stretch. You must create a paper trail tracking the changes in medical conditions, whether your symptoms improve, stay the same or get worse. Likewise, it is important that you keep your attorney apprised of any changes in your medical condition and any medical treatments you have received. In the months leading up to your hearing, you should continue sending updated medical records to Social Security with instructions that they be included in your file.

The hearing lasts approximately 45-60 minutes. It is an informal proceeding, and generally, the only people in the hearing room will be the administrative law judge, the judge’s clerk, you, your attorney, a vocational expert and perhaps a medical expert. You are allowed to bring your spouse, subject to approval by the particular judge.

The hearing begins with the judge swearing you in and explaining the process to you in general terms. (If you are represented at the hearing, the judge may allow your attorney to make a brief opening argument.) The judge may spend 10 to 20 minutes asking you about your impairments, what you typically do on an average day, why you can’t work, and the types of things you do around the house. This is your time to explain to the judge exactly what is preventing you from working and what difficulties you may be having with your daily activities.

The judge then will ask the medical expert and vocational expert whether they have any questions for you. The judge then will proceed to elicit testimony from these expert witnesses. Most of the experts’ testimony will not be based on what you have stated in your testimony, but rather on the evidence contained in your file. After the judge has questioned the experts, he or she will allow you (or your attorney) to cross-examine the experts. The judge may then allow you (or your attorney) to offer any closing arguments.

About two to four months after the hearing, the judge will mail you a copy of his or her decision. Keep in mind that this time period is an average, and it can take longer or shorter to receive your decision.

If you are denied at the hearing level, you can appeal within 60 days to the Social Security Appeals Council.

Preparing for Your Disability Hearing

We know how long and stressful the process is, and we do everything possible to get you approved for benefits in the shortest time. Unfortunately, there is little we can do about the timeline for getting a hearing in the backlogged ALJ docket. What we can do is:

  • Examine your case and strategize your appeal
  • Walk you through the claims process and timeline
  • Explain what to expect at your hearing
  • Prepare pre-hearing briefs for the judge
  • Rigorously cross-examine the vocational and medical experts
  • Give a closing statement and submit post-hearing briefs
  • Keep you informed of any news from the Administration

Ohio Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyers

Cleveland · Akron · Canton · Columbus · Cincinnati · Dayton

You will always meet with a knowledgeable attorney who focuses exclusively in Social Security Disability law. You can call us day or night at 855-513-4844 (toll free) or contact us to arrange a free consultation. We have a convenient office near you and we can make home visits within 50 miles of each.

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