Social Security disability benefits are available to Americans whose disabilities prevent them from working or living independently. Because many people can find the application process tricky, it is helpful to brush up on common terms associated with the program.
What Are ALJ Hearings?
If your initial disability application ends up being denied (like 60-65% of all applicants are) then it is time to move into step two of the application process: getting an ALJ hearing. ALJ hearings give you a chance to present your case in person to an administrative law judge (or ALJ) and potentially get your case decision reversed.
This involves first going to your closest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), which is separate than most local Social Security offices. Here, you can schedule an appointment and learn what/how you should prepare for your hearing. If the hearing is successful, then your case decision can be reversed and you will begin receiving benefits.
Scheduling a disability hearing can be difficult for some people. For instance, most ODARs have long waiting lists of other applicants waiting for their own hearings, so it is important to schedule yours as soon as possible. Also important is to be sure you are 100% prepared for your hearing by compiling all current/previous medical paperwork, financial paperwork, and testimonies.
How an Attorney Can Help
Attorneys are arguably the most beneficial for applicants during their ALJ hearing. Here, they can best put their legal expertise to use by building you a strong case as to why you should receive disability benefits. Best of all, attorneys are guaranteed to work their hardest because they work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if they win your case.