An applicant for disability benefits will need to participate in at least one appeal hearing if his or her initial application gets denied. Appealing a suspension or reduction of previously awarded disability benefits may also become necessary.

Each disability program available to Ohio residents follows its own specific procedures for scheduling and conducting hearings on appeals. The process available to first-time Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants serves as a good showcase of the ins and outs of going through appeals hearings, so this is outlined below as an example of what to expect.

Scheduling an SSDI Appeal Hearing

A Social Security disability case reviewer makes a first decision on an application for benefits without meeting with the disabled person. A rejected application can be resubmitted with additional information for review by a different case officer. Only if that re-review results in a rejection can an appeal hearing be requested.

A notice of intent to appeal in person must be submitted to an administrative law judge within 60 days of receiving the second letter stating that SSDI benefits will not be awarded. This is the time to hire a Columbus Social Security disability lawyer if none has been involved previously.

Preparing for an SSDI Appeal Hearing

SSDI applicants have the undeniable right to consult with and receive assistance from a disability attorney at every stage of the application and appeals process. A legal adviser and ally will absolutely prove his or her worth when it becomes necessary to prepare for an in-person appeal.

The Social Security Administration usually schedules an appeal hearing for two or three months after it receives the notice of intent to appeal. During the interim, the SSDI applicant and his or her lawyer can review all the files the agency has prepared on the case, collect and submit additional evidence like medical records, and arrange for reports and testimony from experts who can support the argument for awarding benefits.

Participating in an SSDI Appeal Hearing

The appeals hearing will take place in a centrally located office or, if the SSDI applicant is too disabled to travel, via videoconference. Administrative law judges who handle SSDI cases practice in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo.

The hearing usually concludes in a single day. It runs like a civil trial, with the applicant being able to testify and to call witnesses to testify on his or her behalf. When the Social Security Administration puts a witness on the stand, the applicant can have his or her SSDI lawyer question the person.

The administrative law judge issues the final decision in writing a few days or a couple of weeks after the conclusion of the appeal hearing. Two final methods to have a denial of benefits overturned exist at this point. The first, which is the more difficult option, is to report the judge to the Social Security Administration for treating the applicant unfairly. Any violation of hearing procedures or civil rights would need to be egregious to lead to reopening the appeal.

The last option involves filing a civil lawsuit in federal court. A knowledgeable and experienced Columbus disability lawyer will be able to explain what grounds make suing Social Security possible.

To speak with a Social Security disability attorney, call Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman at (800) 678-3318. You can also request a free consultation by completing this online contact form.