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Important points about a hearing when appealing denied claims

For New Jersey residents who have a condition, illness or injury that prevents them from working, Social Security disability is an option to consider. However, there are instances in which the initial application is denied. This could be for a number of reasons. Using the appeals process is a way for the applicant to have the case reexamined by the Social Security Administration to see if the decision will be changed and the benefits provided. After reconsideration, the next level of appeal is a hearing. Understanding what happens during a hearing is important.

The hearing is the second level of an appeal after reconsideration and before the Appeals Council and federal court. The hearing is overseen by an administrative law judge. The ALJ presiding over the hearing will not have had a role in the initial decision, nor in the reconsideration. In general, the hearing will be held within 75 miles of the applicant's residence. The ALJ will inform the applicant as to where and when the hearing will take place. Prior to the hearing, the SSA might ask for more evidence and for information to be clarified. The applicant has the right to examine the information in the file and provide more information.

With the hearing, the ALJ will ask questions of the applicant and witnesses in the case. Medical and vocational experts can give testimony and provide information. It is possible to have the hearing conducted by video. Having a video hearing may be easier for witnesses and others to go along with the applicant. When the applicant cannot attend the hearing or does not want to attend it, the SSA must be told in writing. It is possible that the ALJ will not need the applicant to be present to render a decision. In this case, it will not be necessary to attend.

After the hearing, the decision will be made by the ALJ using all the evidence and information that is part of the case. It is possible that the decision will be in the applicant's favor and SSD benefits will be approved. However, if they are not, the case can move forward to the other levels of appeal after being denied Social Security benefits. For assistance with the case from start to finish, including appeals of denied claims, a lawyer experienced in Social Security disability can help.

Source: ssa.gov, "The Appeals Process," accessed on Jan. 9, 2017

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