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Social Security's Hearing Process
What You Need to Know to Request a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
You have the right to appeal any decision Social Security makes on whether you are entitled to Social Security benefits or are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. If we determine that you no longer meet the requirements for Social Security or SSI or find that you are overpaid, you have the right to request review of our decision.
The first step in the appeals process is called a reconsideration determination. You will receive a new decision by someone who had no part in the first decision. We will send you a letter explaining how we made the decision.
If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If you disagree with the decision of the ALJ, you may file a request for review with the Appeals Council.
How to Request a Hearing
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The hearing process begins after an applicant for benefits has been denied at the initial and (in most states) reconsideration levels. The next step in the appeals process is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
You or your representative may request a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ will make an independent decision based on the evidence we have, including your testimony at the hearing.
After you request a hearing, your Social Security office sends your case file to the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) office. Although we attempt to schedule all hearings promptly, there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals or delays due to ALJ travel schedules if you wish to make an in-person appearance at the hearing rather than appear by video teleconference. Often, a hearing by video teleconference can be scheduled faster than an in-person hearing. We have 161 hearing offices nationwide and approximately 40% of our hearings are held in remote locations. This lessens the likelihood that you may need to travel far for your hearing.
At least 20 days before your hearing, we will send you a notice telling you the date, time, and place of the hearing.
The Administrative Law Judge usually holds the hearing within 75 miles of your home. However, your hearing may be farther away so more hearings can be held in one location. If travel arrangements will present a problem for you, tell the Social Security office when you request a hearing or as soon as possible after that. If you want to appear at a hearing but are unable to travel due to your health, submit a doctor's report with your request for hearing, explaining why you cannot travel.
Before the hearing:
At the hearing:
After the hearing:
If you do not wish to appear in person at the hearing, you must let us know in writing when you request the hearing. Give your reasons, and ask the Administrative Law Judge to make a decision based on the evidence in your file, along with any new evidence by contacting your local Hearing Office and requesting a Form HA-4608. However, if your claim involves "disability," you may wish to explain how your medical problems limit your activities and prevent you from working.
The Administrative Law Judge may decide that your presence at the hearing will be helpful, especially if only you can
best explain certain facts. If so, he or she may schedule
a hearing even if you asked not to be present.
If the Administrative Law Judge schedules a hearing, you and your representative, if you have one, should attend. It is very important that you attend a scheduled hearing. If for any reason you cannot attend, contact the Administrative Law Judge as soon as possible before the hearing and state the reason.
The Administrative Law Judge will reschedule the hearing if you have provided a good reason. If you do not go to a scheduled hearing and the Administrative Law Judge decides that you do not have a good reason for not going, your request for hearing may be dismissed.
If you must travel more than seventy-five miles from your home or office to attend the hearing, we can pay certain costs. Here are the rules that apply:
If you think an ALJ treated you unfairly, you should tell us about it and ask us to look into it. You may ask at any time, even while we are deciding your claims for benefits. For more information about what you should do, refer to our publication "How to file an unfair treatment complaint against an Administrative Law Judge".
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Last reviewed or modified Friday Mar 15, 2013