Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are payments the Social Security Administration makes to eligible individuals who have serious illnesses or injuries that interfere with their ability to work. Even if you qualify for SSDI benefits, though, the SSA may deny your initial application. After all, the SSA denies most first-time applications.
An initial denial is probably not the end of the road for you, as you can ask another SSA officer to review your SSDI benefits application. If that does not end favorably, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
The purpose of the hearing
The purpose of an SSDI benefits hearing is simply to determine if you qualify for benefits. The ALJ is likely to review all available evidence from your initial application and subsequent filings. He or she is also likely to ask questions about your work history, disability and other relevant matters.
The structure of the hearing
Usually, you must appear in person for an SSDI benefits hearing, although ALJs sometimes conduct hearings telephonically or through videoconferencing. The hearing typically is not public, so any relatives or friends you bring with you to the hearing may have to wait outside. Most SSDI benefits hearings last about an hour, although yours may be longer or shorter.
The witnesses at the hearing
Even though the ALJ is likely to ask you questions at the hearing, your attorney may also question you. If you have a lawyer, you will know about the questioning in advance. Medical and vocational witnesses may also provide testimony.
Many individuals who receive first-time denials of SSDI benefits ultimately receive benefits after attending an SSDI benefits hearing. Still, to boost your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve, you must diligently prepare for your hearing before the ALJ.