Social Security Disability Hearings

A Social Security Disability Hearing can be a stressful proceeding for a client who is not adequately advised in writing by his or her attorney as to the protocol and timing for the setting of the hearing, the evidence to be presented before the hearing officer commonly known as the administrative law judge, the final decision to award or not award benefits, and if benefits are awarded, the timing of the actual payment.

There is no set time period between when a claimant for Social Security benefits requests a hearing date for claimed disability benefits and when a final award is rendered. Such a time period varies upon the facts of a given claim and the number of claims submitted for hearing before a given administrative law judge at a determined Social Security office. As a general rule, the national average in this country from the filing of the hearing request to the award is around fifteen and one-half months (15 1/2).

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After the hearing is conducted and evidence received, the administrative law judge usually takes the matter under submission and renders a written decision two (2) to three (3) months after the hearing date. On some occasions, the administrative law judge rules from the bench but this seldom happens in Social Security disability claim matters.

Assuming the claimant is awarded Social Security disability benefits, common practice is that it takes at least a month for the benefits to be issued by the Social Security Administration. From the date any Social Security Disability decision is awarded and notice given by mail to the claimant’s attorney, there is typically a five (5) to six (6) month time period for all accrued benefits to be paid out. If there are SSI issues associated with the disability claim, several more months pass before all awarded and accrued Social Security benefits are typically paid out.

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Your Lawyer’s Role in the Process

The Social Security disability claimant’s attorney cannot speed up the administrative process of his or her client’s claim and the process to adjudicate it. The lawyer’s job it to make sure all paper work is timely filed so that there are no delays and to keep the claim’s process moving forward in an orderly fashion.

The administrative judge’s assistant typically contacts the claimant’s attorney as to available hearing dates and times for the claim. The layer then confers with his or her client as to acceptable dates and then contacts the judicial assistant to set the date and time for the proceeding typically confirmed in a letter to the Social Security Administration and the client. Soon afterwards, the clerk for the Social Security Administration sends the claimant’s attorney written notice of the date, time and location for the client’s Social Security disability hearing.

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If the client is not reported to by his or her attorney on a regular basis in writing as to the status of the given Social Security disability claim, it is incumbent upon the client to contact the attorney as to status. By doing this, inadvertent errors in communication by either the attorney, client or both are minimized.