Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge

Marin County Attorney Assisting Individuals with Social Security Disability Appeals

Many people who file an application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits must appeal more than once before being approved. Although the process can be lengthy and arduous, being persistent can lead to rewards. I am John Stanko, a tenacious lawyer who assists claimants with SSD appeals in Marin County and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The majority of applications for government benefits are denied at the initial stage, but often these outcomes are reversed on appeal. I understand the frustration that injured individuals feel when they receive denials, and I work hard to present their cases persuasively as they continue to advance their claims.

Pursuing a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge

A multi-tiered system of appeals is available for the 70 percent of SSD applicants whose initial claims are denied. The first step in the process is to file a request for reconsideration with the local SSA office at which you filed your initial application. However, the majority of requests for consideration are rejected, so you should not lose hope if you are among the many people who receive a denial at this stage. A hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) is the next step of the process, and it is the stage at which many applicants who were initially denied establish their eligibility for SSD.

Most states, including California, require applicants who have been denied Social Security benefits to first file a reconsideration request within 60 days. Following that appeal, people who are again denied may request a hearing before an ALJ. Sometimes it can take over a year to receive a hearing date due to the amount of applicants and the availability of ALJs. During this time, your attorney and you may collect and prepare evidence to show your disability.

A claimant seeking to receive SSD benefits must show that he or she is unable to work due to a medical impairment, either mental or physical, and that the disability has lasted or will last for at least a year. Some people qualify for Social Security by meeting the requirements in the SSA’s book of listings, which outlines conditions that make individuals automatically eligible for benefits. Those who do not meet the specific criteria of a listing, however, still can prove that they are qualified for benefits by showing that they have a condition that is essentially equivalent to a listed condition.

At a hearing, the ALJ listens to testimony and evaluates medical evidence to determine whether a claimant meets the requirements. Hearings are often held in person within 75 miles of an applicant’s home, but a video conference can be used if necessary. Once a hearing date is set, an applicant is sent notice 20 days in advance. At the hearing, depositions can be submitted, and witnesses’ testimony is heard. Often, medical and vocational expert witnesses are essential to establishing your impairment and inability to work. Other witnesses may also be questioned, including employers or family and friends with knowledge of your limitations. You will also be questioned regarding your prior work history as well as medical issues. The ALJ will then make a decision regarding your disability claim.

Contact a Government Benefits Lawyer in San Francisco

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are considering appealing the denial of a request for reconsideration of your eligibility for Social Security, consulting a government benefits attorney may make a difference. The Law Office of John Stanko has served individuals in numerous local communities, including in San Rafael, Sausalito, and other communities in Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. Do not hesitate to call me at 415-755-8899, or toll-free at 877-204-8900 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options and how I can help. You can also contact us through this website.