If you suffer from a disability and find yourself unable to work, you may be able to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
These benefits can help you pay for your medical expenses and everyday costs of living.
Top ODAR Offices
After you initially apply for disability benefits, the SSA may deny your application based on a lack of sufficient medical evidence or a variety of other factors.
Luckily, this decision can be appealed, during which the SSA will reconsider your application and approve or deny it.
If your application is denied after the reconsideration stage, you can appeal your case again and your case will be sent to an office of disability adjudication and review (ODAR) for a hearing.
There are ODAR offices located across the country, and approval rates for your hearing will vary based on the judge at the ODAR office handling your case.
Here are some of the top ODAR offices in the country that have ruled fully or partially favorable disability benefits case hearings over the past year, including the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ), total cases, and the amount of awards and denials:
- Orland Park, Illinois
- Administrative law judge: William J. Mackowiak
- Total cases: 366
- Awards: 248
- Denials: 49
- Kingsport, Tennessee
- Administrative law judge: Michael J. Davenport
- Total cases: 349
- Awards: 234
- Denials: 85
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Administrative law judge: James A. Burke
- Total cases: 310
- Awards: 234
- Denials: 33
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Administrative law judge: Ramon E. Quinones
- Total cases: 264
- Awards: 211
- Denials: 28
- Tampa, Florida
- Administrative law judge: Paul L. Johnston
- Total cases: 273
- Awards: 215
- Denials: 13
Administrative Law Judges
As every administrative law judge is different, having the right judge can affect the outcome of your case and either improve or decrease your chances of getting approved for disability benefits.
One quality of a decent ALJ is that they give sufficient weight to the opinion and testimony of your treating physician.
Your doctor should’ve written statements and filled out an your RFC, or residual functional capacity, to include with your application.
Also, if your treating physician specializes in your unique disability, their opinion should most definitely be regarded with more weight.
Your ALJ will also need to review your RFC and make an assessment on the evidence presented in it. Their assessment should include extensive medical evidence from your RFC and medical records to support the claims they make.
Your ALJ should correctly classify your impairment as severe if it is so, and they should be careful to take both your severe and nonsevere impairments into account when making their decision, as both will affect your ability to work.
Find an Attorney
If you have made it to the hearing stage of your appeals process, you should have a lawyer guiding you through your case.
An attorney or disability advocate can help you prepare for your hearing, gather the necessary medical evidence, and help you reschedule if your hearing gets slotted for a bad or inopportune time.