What to Expect at a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge

Once your application for reconsideration of your Social Security Disability claim has been denied, you have the right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). However, due to the high number of appeals, it may take up to two (2) years for the ALJ hearing to be scheduled. In our local district, the waiting time for the ALJ hearing is typically one and a half (1 ½ ) years from the date of the hearing request.

During the ALJ hearing, the judge will review testimonies from witnesses and examine evidence, including your medical records. It is essential for you to attend the hearing, unless there are extraordinary reasons preventing you from doing so. You or your attorney may call witnesses to testify on your behalf, though most ALJs only require testimony from the claimant.

The ALJ may also question medical doctors or vocational experts hired by the Social Security Administration to provide their opinions on various matters, such as your medical condition and its impact on your ability to work. They will consider factors like your previous job, your capability to perform it, and whether there are alternative jobs suitable for someone in your condition considering your age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity. Your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine these expert witnesses and challenge any flaws in their positions.

It is crucial to have an experienced attorney representing you at the ALJ hearing, as it presents the best chance to prove your disability and secure approval for your Social Security disability claim.

Following the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision within a few months. It is uncommon for ALJs to announce their decision during the hearing itself.

The disability application process can be lengthy and disheartening for most claimants. However, it is essential to remain optimistic and persistent in fighting for your rights throughout the waiting period.

Attorney Russell Bowling is a Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law with extensive experience in advocating for disabled clients in Western North Carolina since 1979. He provides representation throughout the entire disability process, including at administrative law judge hearings. If you reside in Western North Carolina and require representation for your Social Security case, please contact our office. We operate on a contingency fee basis and only charge fees if we are successful in obtaining your Social Security benefits. All conferences are free, and fees are based on a favorable decision.