As such, the process of applying for and appealing denials of Social Security disability benefits in Sandy Springs can be very discouraging and intimidating. The Social Security Administration (SSA), which administers long-term disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, set up the benefit qualification process so that it includes several layers of administrative review.
The level which may be the most important is the SSDI hearing, because that is often the last place new evidence may be introduced. Applicants involved in a Sandy Springs SSDI hearing often elect to work with an experienced SSDI lawyer to ensure that they properly present all available evidence and make the most effective arguments to support their claim.
Before an SSDI hearing in Sandy Springs, an applicant would have filed an application for SSDI benefits online or through an interview either on the phone or in person with the SSA. Following this, the agency would have denied the applicant’s claim.
At that point, the applicant generally would have sought a reconsideration by the agency, and that would have been denied also. So, then the applicant would file a request for an SSDI hearing, where the case would be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) rather than an SSA staff member.
Hearings before an administrative law judge are not as formal as federal court proceedings, although the applicant and any witnesses present are sworn in before answering questions from the judge. Applicants are often advised to wear normal attire, rather than formal business attire, so long as their clothing shows proper respect for the proceedings.
The location of SSDI hearings varies depending on the location of the applicant. It may be in the SSA hearing office, or it could be held in a temporary location such as a hotel conference room. Sandy Springs is located in SSA Region 4, which is headquartered in Atlanta. SSA has Hearing Offices in downtown Atlanta and in Alpharetta, so an SSDI hearing for Sandy Springs residents would likely be scheduled in one of these offices.
In a typical SSDI administrative hearing, a vocational expert would be on hand to give an opinion as the types of work that could be done by someone with the applicant’s level of disability. The judge usually asks questions about the applicant’s former employment and ask the vocational expert questions about potential employment.
If the judge does not ask questions, the applicant may be invited to make a statement. This provides them an opportunity to explain how disability limitations prevent them from working at gainful employment. The hearing will typically be brief, so it is important to take advantage of available opportunities to make the case for why disability benefits should be paid.
It may take some time for the judge to make a decision, have it formally written up, and issue final approval. If the decision is a denial, the applicant’s file will often be kept at the Office of Hearing Operations in case an appeal is filed.
If the administrative law judge approves a claim, the SSA would check to ensure the applicant has not been working too much to continue to qualify for benefits. Assuming the applicant has not, a Notice of Award Letter would be sent.
This Letter may contain a fully favorable or partially favorable decision. For instance, if the judge has disagreed with the date the applicant claims as the onset of the disability, the date from which payments are calculated may be adjusted. This would be an example of a partially favorable decision.
Applicants for disability benefits who will have their case heard before an administrative law judge should ensure that they have all available evidence ready to present and a statement prepared, as well as planned answers to anticipated questions. For help preparing for a Sandy Springs SSDI hearing, an applicant may wish to consult an experienced Social Security attorney.
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With offices in Alpharetta, Atlanta and Marietta, we provide legal assistance to people throughout Georgia and the Southeast in all matters of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
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