An administrative law hearing is the second stage in the appeal process. At this stage, you as the claimant are most likely to be rewarded benefits. Additionally, this is your first opportunity to engage in a face-to-face meeting with the person who will be deciding whether to grant or deny your claim.

Who is the Person Hearing my Claim?

The person hearing your claim is called an Administrative Law Judge. There are thousands of these judges around the country. They are sworn to an oath which requires them to provide a fair and impartial hearing to every claimant.

Does the Hearing Take Place in a Courtroom?

Because these hearings are generally informal, they are not usually held in a courtroom. Rather, these hearings are generally held in some type of conference room.

What Happens during a Hearing? 

  • Questions: Relating to your education, type of work you do, severity of your medical condition, and conditions preventing you from working.
  • Length of time: Generally, these hearings only last less than an hour.
  • People present: These hearings are not public. The only people present will be you, your attorney (if you retained one), the judge, and the hearing clerk. You might also request that your doctor or some medical expert be present but medical reports are sufficient evidence for these hearings.

What Does the Hearing Clerk do?

The hearing clerk brings you and your attorney your file to review before the hearing begins. If no attorney is present, the clerk will attempt to review the file with you and explain the procedures. The clerk also operates any recording equipment and takes notes.

How Should I Dress for the Hearing?

Although this hearing tends to be informal, it is a good idea to maintain a clean and neat appearance. Slacks and sport shirts are recommended for men and slacks or a skirt with a blouse are recommended for women.

Does the Social Security Administration Use Their Own Definition of “Disabled?”

Yes. Disabled is defined by the SSA as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with My Social Security Matter?

The laws that regulates social security are very complex and confusing. It isn’t always clear which benefits you are entitled to. An family attorney can help you understand which social security benefits you should be receiving. A lawyer can also help you if you need to appeal a denial of social security benefits.