A denial of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits does not have to be the end of the process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers several steps to appeal the decision. If you get denied, you have options to present additional evidence and convince the SSA to reverse its decision.
One method is appealing your denial in a face-to-face hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). An ALJ is a specific type of judge who decides on cases involving statutory law, which includes disability applications.
Qualifying for an ALJ hearing requires that you have received two denials already—once on your initial application and again on a reconsideration appeal. Though the process to get there is long, the odds of a judge giving you a disability denial are usually low. The ALJ stage often represents your best chance of approval.
For help requesting a disability hearing, contact the Disability Advantage Group. We can represent you to the ALJ and fight for your disability benefits. Call 865-566-0800 for a free consultation.
What Are My Chances of Receiving an Approval From an ALJ?
The SSA releases data showing the number of ALJ appeals heard, along with the number of approvals or denials judges issued. It also breaks this data down by city and even by the specific judge.
The most recent data—which covers September 30, 2017, through February 23, 2018—indicates that ALJs approved many more appeals than they denied. The data also shows that the approval rate can vary wildly from judge to judge.
A good disability lawyer will be familiar with the local ALJs and will know what to expect based on the one assigned to your case.
Can I Choose My ALJ?
Unfortunately, you cannot choose the ALJ for your disability claim. That means you need to be able to appeal your claim to whichever judge assigned to your case, even if it is one known for issuing frequent denials.
The good news is, no ALJ denies every appeal put in front of them. A compelling argument can win over even the toughest ALJ. Moreover, a lawyer who has fought and won lots of claims in front of ALJs will have a good understanding of how to structure a winning appeal.
How Does an ALJ Hearing Differ From a Request for Reconsideration?
With a request for reconsideration—the first step in the appeals process—the person reviewing your claim has only the information you provide on paper to decide your fate. An ALJ hearing is more personal. The judge can ask specific questions and the applicant can emphasize certain parts of their application that they feel warrant extra consideration.
Accordingly, a much higher percentage of applicants receive approvals at the ALJ stage than at the reconsideration stage.
How Can I Have the Best Chance of Approval at My ALJ Hearing?
The more evidence you have—and the better job you do of presenting it—the higher the chance you have that the ALJ will approve your case.
A disability attorney can help you during this process. Not only are disability lawyers familiar with different judges, but they know all the quirks and nuances of the appeals process and can help you avoid the many pitfalls that have kept other applicants from getting approved.
How Can I Schedule a Free Consultation With a Disability Lawyer?
The disability team at the Disability Advantage Group, offers free consultations and claim reviews. No matter where you are in the application or appeals process, we can help you fight for monthly disability payments. For a free attorney consultation, call our office today at 865-566-0800.