If you have paid into the Social Security system for at least five of the last ten years, you should be considered fully insured and, if you become disabled and are unable to work, you should qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It may sound simple enough, but it is unfortunately not often that simple. An estimated 65 percent of first time SSDI benefits are denied. This is not the end of the road, however, and a qualified SSDI attorney from Keller & Keller can help you through the appeals process. One step along the way is the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing.
What Happens at an ALJ Hearing?
If your original application is denied and you have good cause to file an appeal, your case may be reconsidered. If it is denied again, you may be able to file another appeal and be granted a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Here is how this works:
- This is an informal hearing with a judge in a conference room, not a courtroom. Hearings generally last about an hour and a half.
- Attending the hearing will be you, your attorney, the Administrative Law Judge, and a hearing monitor to record the proceedings. The judge may also want to hear from vocational and medical experts. Your attorney may also call witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- You will be asked questions about your work history, education, medical history, symptoms, perceived work limitations, daily activities, and more. The judge’s goal is to determine your level of disability.
- Your attorney will prepare evidence of the emotional and physical pain you have experienced and how the injury or illness has affected your ability to work.
- In Indiana, roughly 45 percent of these hearings find in favor of the claimant.
Indiana has hearing offices in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Valparaiso, and remote meetings can also be scheduled.
Do Not Go Through the Appeals Process Alone
While you are not required to have an attorney representing you for the SSDI application and appeals process, it is highly recommended that you do. Fill out our free case evaluation form to find out how the Indianapolis office of Keller & Keller can help you through this difficult and frustrating process to get you the benefits you have earned.