If you decide to take a denied claim for Social Security disability benefits to the second level of appeal, you’ll have a hearing in Texas disability court overseen by an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ. The ALJ is the next major decision maker on your claim.
All administrative law judges are appointed at the federal level. Social Security judges work at an Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) facility, several of which are located throughout the state of Texas.
What is the ALJ’s role in my claim appeal hearing?.
Prior to the scheduled date and time of your hearing, the judge will receive and examine all the documents related to your case. Though every judge will have their own way of working, it isn’t uncommon for them to begin his or her review of your file a few hours before your hearing. Your case history—officially known as the exhibit file—will include important information, such as:
- Your initial application for SSI or SSDI
- The disability determination, a detailed summary of your case explaining why your application was denied from the disability examiner who handled your case
- Your medical records
- All relevant work history
- Social Security earnings record
- Evaluations or letters from your doctor
- Notarized testimonial letters from former employers, family, friends
Who will the judge interview at my hearing?Though your case history will provide the ALJ with much of the information needed to make a determination on your claim, he or she will also interview key parties for additional evidence at your hearing. The judge may speak with:
- You or your Houston disability attorney, especially if you’ve turned up new evidence that either supports your claim or refutes some aspect of previous determinations.
- A medical expert often one who specializes in a field related to your impairment. The medical expert will help the ALJ in interpreting your medical records.
- A vocational expert will suggest types of employment, if any, an individual with your impairments has been able to perform.
The ALJ doesn’t make a new determination while you are at the hearing. Usually, you will receive notification of the decision several weeks later.Before you file for a claim appeal hearing, it’s important to know that the Administrative Law Judge is generally more likely to reverse a previous denial in cases where the applicant is using a Houston disability benefits attorney. Attorneys who are knowledgeable about Social Security law will be able to build a persuasive case to present to disability court. They’ll also know how to prepare you for your hearing so you are far less likely to make a mistake that could damage your case.To learn more about SSDI claim appeal hearings, call 800.800.6353 to speak with the team at Morgan & Weisbrod today. Our informative book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, is available free to your request.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.