Unfortunately for disabled workers in and around Oklahoma City, the Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects most applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Getting approved on the initial application is not easy, and getting turned down does not mean that your claim is not valid.
Moreover, a rejected claim is not the end of the line. You have the right to ask the SSA to assign a new examiner and medical team to reconsider your application. This works in some cases but often results in another rejection. If reconsideration does not work, the next step is an appeal hearing.
This hearing has some things in common with a trial, but there are key differences. Here is a brief overview of what to expect at your SSDI hearing.
Waiting for your hearing
First, be prepared to wait. In Oklahoma City, the average current waiting time between being granted a hearing and that hearing actually happening is eight months. Before your hearing, you can provide more evidence for your file, such as medical tests.
Something like a trial, but less formal
Once your hearing date arrives, it will be held in an office or hearing center at the local SSA center; as mentioned above, there is one in Oklahoma City. An administrative law judge will preside over the hearing, and an SSA representative will also be there. Though the hearing is less formal than a trial, you have permission to have an attorney there to represent you.
The hearing itself is often fairly short, usually lasting between 15 minutes and an hour. Both you and the SSA representatives can present expert witnesses, usually medical professionals familiar with your condition and prognosis. You can also give testimony if you wish, and the judge may ask you questions.
Hiring a lawyer makes a difference
If the ALR rules against you, you have two more chances to appeal. But many people are awarded SSDI benefits at this level, especially those who work with an SSDI attorney. Research by the Government Accountability Office shows that claimants with a representative are three times more successful at SSDI hearings.