Hearings With The Social Security Administration (SSA)

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

About

About Hearings With The Social Security Administration (SSA)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency that administers various social security programs, including retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. If you apply for social security benefits and your claim gets denied, you have the right to appeal the decision through a hearing process. 

What You Need To Know

You have 60 days after you get the previous determination or decision in the appeals process to request a hearing. 

If you end up missing a deadline to request a hearing and you do not have a good reason for missing the deadline, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may dismiss your appeal. Dismissal means that you may not be eligible for the next step in the appeal process and that you may also lose your right to any further review. 

If you miss a deadline to request a hearing, you can contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to tell them why you missed the deadline and ask to extend it. SSA may help answer any questions you have and help you file a written request to extend the deadline. 

Whether you applied online, by mail, or in an office, you can check the status of your hearing request using your personal my Social Security account. 

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) schedules a hearing it is important for you to attend the hearing. If you cannot attend, you must try to contact the hearing office as soon as possible before the hearing and tell them why. You may also need to tell the SSA in writing why you cannot attend the hearing. 

If you want to change the time or place of the hearing, you must ask for this change before the earlier of the two dates. The first date is 30 days after you receive your notice of hearing. The second date is 5 days before the date of your hearing. SSA assumes you received your notice of hearing 5 days after the date on the notice unless you show SSA that you did not get it within the 5-day period. If you miss the deadline for requesting a change, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will decide whether you have a good reason for missing the deadline.

If you don't want to appear before the ALJ at an oral hearing, you must let SSA know in writing that you would like to waive your right to appear at the hearing. You may complete and send form HA-4608 Waiver of Your Right to Personal Appearance Before an Administrative Law Judge along with any new evidence you may have.

During the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) explains the issues in the case and may question you and any witnesses you may bring to the hearing. The ALJ may also ask other witnesses to testify. For example, during a hearing about whether a person is disabled, the ALJ may ask, a medical expert to testify. You and the witnesses must answer questions under oath or affirmation. The hearing is informal but there may be an audio recording of the hearing. You may choose to have an attorney represent you or you may represent yourself. 

After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issues a written decision based on all the evidence in the case. The hearing office then mails a copy of the decision to you and your attorney if you have one. 

If you disagree with the decision of the ALJ, then you may file a request for review with the Appeals Council within 60 days.

Whether or not you need an attorney for the Social Security appeals process can depend on several factors. An attorney may help to understand the complexities and will be able to guide you through the process. An attorney can help you gather and present evidence and prepare your case for a hearing. An attorney can also represent you during your hearing, making arguments on your behalf and questioning any witnesses. 

That said, it's possible to go through the appeals process without an attorney, and some people choose to do so. This is known as proceeding "pro se." The decision of whether or not to hire an attorney is a personal one and depends on your comfort level with navigating legal processes, your financial situation, and the complexity of your case. 

Steps In The SSA Hearings And Appeals Process

About The Steps In The SSA Hearings And Appeals Process

If you are applying for Social Security benefits, it's important to understand the hearing and appeals steps with the Social Security Administration (SSA). These steps provide you with an opportunity to present your case and potentially overturn an earlier denial of benefits. 

Steps In The SSA Hearings And Appeals Process

The first step in the hearings and appeals process with the SSA is to file a request for reconsideration if your initial claim for benefits gets denied. When your claim gets denied, you have the right to ask the SSA to take another look at your case. 

To request reconsideration, you must complete and submit a form called "Request for Reconsideration" within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. You can submit this form online, by mail, or in person at your local Social Security office.

Once the SSA receives your request for reconsideration, they will assign your case to a different claims examiner who will review your case and any new evidence you submit. This is an opportunity for you to provide additional documentation or information that may support your claim.

If the claims examiner still denies your claim after the reconsideration review, the next step in the process is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).

The second step in the hearings and appeals process with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) if your claim is denied at the reconsideration level.

To request a hearing, you must complete and submit a form called "Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge" within 60 days of receiving the reconsideration denial notice. You can submit this form online, by mail, or in person at your local Social Security office.

Once your request for a hearing is received, the SSA will assign your case to an ALJ who will conduct a formal hearing to review your case. The ALJ will consider all the evidence in your case, including any new evidence you submit, and may ask you to testify and answer questions.

The hearing may be conducted in person at a hearing office, via video conference, or by telephone. You may also have a representative, such as an attorney, represent you at the hearing.

After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision on your case. If the ALJ denies your claim, you may request a review by the Appeals Council, which is the next level of appeal within the SSA.

The third step in the hearings and appeals process with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is to request a review by the Appeals Council if your claim is denied by the administrative law judge (ALJ).

To request a review by the Appeals Council, you must complete and submit a form called "Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order" within 60 days of receiving the ALJ's decision. You can submit this form online, by mail, or in person at your local Social Security office.

The Appeals Council will then review your case and the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council may affirm the ALJ's decision, reverse the decision, or send the case back to the ALJ for further review.

If the Appeals Council denies your appeal, or if they decline to review your case, your final option is to file a lawsuit in federal court. However, it's important to note that filing a lawsuit is a complex and lengthy process, and most cases are resolved at the administrative level through the hearing and appeals process with the SSA.

The fourth and final step in the hearings and appeals process with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is to file a lawsuit in federal court if all other levels of appeal have been exhausted and you still wish to pursue your claim for benefits.

To file a lawsuit in federal court, you must file a civil action in the appropriate U.S. District Court within 60 days of receiving the Appeals Council's decision or the ALJ's decision if the Appeals Council declines to review your case.

The lawsuit is a formal legal process that involves presenting your case to a federal judge. You may need to hire an attorney to represent you in court. During the court proceedings, the judge will review the evidence and arguments presented by both sides and issue a final decision.

It's important to note that filing a lawsuit in federal court is a complex and time-consuming process. It should only be considered as a last resort when all other options for appeal have been exhausted. It's also important to have strong legal representation to ensure that your case is presented effectively in court.

Last Review and Update: Aug 04, 2023
Back to top