Disability Hearings Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on where you live, it can take between six months and one year to see a judge.
An average hearing usually takes approximately 30 minutes from start to finish. For well documented cases with strong medical evidence, the hearing is usually short with a limited amount of questions. For more complex cases with, for example, conflicting or inconsistent medical evidence, the hearing can last over an hour. In some rare circumstances, the Judge may request additional information or schedule a medical exam after the hearing.
Your representative can request an “on-the-record” decision if your case is strong enough. However, your representative may charge for his/ her time preparing the request. You can also submit a “dire need” request based on medical or financial hardship. It is at SSA’s discretion as to whether the request will be honored.
Yes, we will be with you at your disability hearing. We will also meet with you prior to your hearing to gather evidence and discuss your case.
Before your hearing we will consult with you to determine what providers you’ve seen, what tests you’ve had performed, and what specific records need requested. Generally, you should have all of the records of your medical treatment for 12 months prior to your alleged onset date in the record before your hearing.
Though not required, a supportive medical opinion from your doctor can sometimes help your case. The ALJ will determine how much weight to give that opinion based on a number of factors such as: the specialty of the doctor, the length of the treating relationship, how consistent the opinion is with other evidence in your file, and other factors.
If you are unable to secure all of the relevant records prior to your hearing, you must notify our office and we will notify the Administrative Law Judge, in writing, five days in advance of your hearing. Otherwise, the Judge may not consider records submitted after your hearing. The Administrative Law Judge will rule separately on whether to admit the records into evidence after your hearing.
If you do not attend your hearing, for whatever reason, you will be asked to explain why or “show cause” as to why you failed to appear. If the Administrative Law Judge feels that you have a valid reason for missing your hearing, he/she may reschedule your hearing for a later date. If the judge does not find your reason for not appearing at your hearing to be sufficient, he will dismiss your case and you will have to appeal or start over and file a new claim.
You are required to have a valid picture ID such as a state ID card, driver’s license or some other form of official identification. In addition, you should have a printout of your prescription medications, prescriptions for any canes, crutches, walkers, glasses, or any medical devices you use.
It usually takes 4-6 weeks after your hearing for a decision to be issued. After the hearing the Judge will review your records, testimony, and any additional evidence or arguments, and issue a decision. Once he/she issues a decision, your case will go over to a decision writing unit for processing and writing a formal decision.