SSDI ALJ hearings

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Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 58
   Posted 1/10/2012 4:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello all, I haven't posted for a while as I was trying to make it through the holidays with a forced happy face, anyway I received another rejection letter from SSDI and now my attorney is filing for an ALJ hearing. She has informed me that it could take a year to 18 months to get a hearing. I'm pretty confident I will eventually get approved as both of my doctors have written letters affirming my disability.
I guess my question is does anyone have experience with ALJ hearings, what should I expect and is it really going to take that long? I can not survive financially waiting that long to get benefits, I don't know what to do....
intercostal neuralgia, degenerative disc disease,ulcerative colitis, atherosclerosis, depression, & anxiety
meds: gabapentin, oxycodone 30 mg, lipitor, xanax, effient, celexa, bentyl, simvastatin

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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16804
   Posted 1/10/2012 6:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi BadHeart, sorry you received another denial but its just part of the process. The hearings are informal, no suit & tie needed to attend, pair of pants and shirt, I suggest no blue jeans unless that is all you have. You don't want to go in looking like you are rolling in the dough but you also do not want to look like a street person. They do swear you in which is no big deal either.

The judge will ask questions about work history, your education and your illness, what you can and cannot do, Don't worry you will do fine and your atty will meet with you prior to the hearing to refresh your memory.

Yes, unfortunately, it can take that long to get a hearing because of the backlog and they do hear the oldest cases first. Your atty has no control on getting your hearing set any sooner. In my state every now & then they will bring in some visiting judges to help out with the back log, but, it really does not make much difference. There are just thousand and thousands of hearings to be set and only so many can be set in 8 hours.

Take care and keep your atty advised of all medical visits to your drs.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 974
   Posted 1/11/2012 6:31 AM (GMT -6)   
It was 2 yrs for me from start to finish to receive my SSDI and yes, it did take a year from the 2nd denial until I saw the ALJ. Your lawyer can request an OTR which is an on the record review. Not sure exactly who looks at your records but someone does and they can make a determination of favorable for your SSDI but they cannot make a decision to deny. If there is not enough information in the medical records for a favorable it will still go to the hearing level with no delay due to the OTR request.

Ask your lawyer about an OTR and they can give you better information.

Like Stray said, don't stop going to your doctors. Make sure your lawyer is updated on any doctor visits and any changes to your care or condition.

DDD, osteoarthritis, facet syndrome, fusion surgeries C-5/7 & L-4/5 both in 2006, torn meniscus surgeries left knee 2000 & 2002, buldging disc L-2/3 & L-3/4, fibromyalgia, polymyalgia rheumatica

White Beard
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Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3703
   Posted 1/13/2012 1:05 AM (GMT -6)   
BadHeart I had my hearing many years ago, at a hotel, it was in a confrence room. I remember them reviewing all my records even all the military training that I had had. And everything else, and the guy from SS said if nothing else, I should be able to work as a used car salesman! Seriously! The judge asked me to walk around the room, I did I am bent over and use a cain, and then the judge asked the guy if he would buy a car from me looking like that? and then the judge said he sure wouldn't!! Everyone chuckled and then he said he wanted me to see their doctor and have one more test done and then he would make his judgement. It took six more months before I got my approval letter and it was backed dated over two years, so I also got my medicare A and B at the same time. I had to give all the money I got for the back pay to my long term insurance company. As I had been receiving benefits from them all that time. Infact they pay more than my SSD so I still get a small monthly check from them. The main thing is, to be honest and sincere at the hearing, and your lawyer should have you prepared for it.

Good Luck to YOU

White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 66
   Posted 1/13/2012 5:45 AM (GMT -6)   
I wish you the best of luck as well, was denied, was scheduled for a hearing and was approved without even having to go. I was lucky, had a great lawyer.
Abdominal surgeries 7ish (C section x2, Hysterectomy, Laprotomy due to scar tissue, left Colectomy, ventral hernia repair,MRSA, Ventral hernia repair removal, MRSA. Ventral hernia repair laproscopic, last surgery left a hole for months that needed to be packed. The last hernia repair was a placement of a Large abdominal mesh with unusual sensitivity to the tacks.

fibro ?
Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 76
   Posted 1/13/2012 5:15 PM (GMT -6)   
SSDI is one strange bird,, some people who need it endup dead before they get it and down the street someone with a hangnail gets it first time,, I was very fortunate,, I was approved first time, I was over 50, had documentated autoimmune diseases, and I contacted my state senators and congressmen, I had them look into my case, you might want to consider that, it never hurts ot have people asking about your case who have power to do something,

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 2861
   Posted 1/13/2012 5:37 PM (GMT -6)   
My alj was viseoconference with a very sweet seemed more like a formality to me...I have not heard of someone getting to alj level and being denied. They had some occupational worker guy there who testified that htere were no jobs in the area that i was capable of working, juf=dge asked me a few simple questions and made a ruling right then and there...i walked out with ssdi and medicare (within a couple of weeks)...
I hope yours is as easy as mine of is just a waiting game..our state took 12-18 monthe also because of sheer vlume applying for ssdi and I also think that they ar slow because the longer it takes, the more $ the lawyers make (ok all you lawyers get mad at me but I was a paralegal) anyway good luck

"We never realize how strong we are, until being strong is the only thing left"
Major Depressive Disorder, ptsd, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, l3/4, L4/5 gone, bursitis arthritis sciatica

seroquel, hydrocodone clonazepam norvasc multi vitamin and magnesium

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16804
   Posted 1/13/2012 6:34 PM (GMT -6)   
I know in Tx they do have Vocational experts that sits in on the hearings and the judge will ask the VE if the claimant is capable of working with their disability. I think they should not be allowed because I have seen the VE too many times say a person can work when they could not even with their job description in the judge's hand. We had a nurse that had been an RN all of her working years. She had all sorts of restrictions that were permanent from lifting to standing on her feet so many hours a day. The VE said this lady could work as a lab technician and the state would pay for her retraining in this field. My boss asked for a two week extension and had the client go to the hospital where she had worked and get a written job description of what the work entailed and after the judge read the job description of a lab tech he awarded her benefits. I just think the VE are jaded in their opinions.

I have seen a few cases be denied by the judges and was surprised by his decision on most of them. The cases can be heard in Federal court but finding an atty willing to go to Federal court can be tough. Federal court is totally different from civil. On our members here was denied benefits at his hearing because he had a lot of work experience and the judge thought he could work at something he already knew how to do. He had to reapply and won on the 2nd time around.

No one should ever pay an atty up front to take their SSD claim. They should sign up with someone that will take the case on a contingency fee basis only. SSD has a fee guideline schedule the atty has to abide by and SSD tells the lawyer how much money he will be paid for handling the case. If the person gets their benefits SSD will send a letter to everone involved saying how much money they will withhold from the back pay for atty fees. If you do not sign a contingency fee contract the atty can charge whatever he wants and SSD has no control over the atty fee agreement. A lot of folks apparently does not know this. Paying someone up front is not going to make him work any harder on your case either.

Only people that control getting cases set for a hearing are the people that work at the SS office. Their dockets are so backed up due to the over load of cases that need hearings and they can only hold so many hearings a day and only have a hand full of judges. Sometimes they will bring in visiting judges to try and get more cases moved. Its not a perfect system by a long shot but its the only one we have at the moment.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum
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