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What to Expect at the Administrative Hearing

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The administrative hearing is the third stage in a Social Security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) appeal. After a denial at the reconsideration level a hearing is requested. It takes between 12 and 15 months to get a hearing date after the hearing request. Hearings are meant to be informal, fact-finding procedures. The people present at the hearing are the claimant, attorney, judge and the reporter who is there simply to record the hearing and handle the file. Sometimes medical and vocational experts are also in attendance. The job of these experts is to give an opinion on the case, based on the record and testimony. Lay witnesses, such as family members or former employers, may also appear and testify.

There is no prosecutor at the hearing, no lawyer for Social Security to cross-examine the claimant. The hearings usually take about an hour. The judges will sometimes ask questions first and then allow the attorney to direct questions to the claimant. Some judges let the attorney ask questions first. In either event, the main information covered is age, educational background including vocational training, work history and disabilities. The disability can be mental, physical or both.

All the pertinent information is presented to the judge. The judge will consider the medical evidence in the file, the testimony at the hearing, the expertsí opinions and any further briefs or letters from the attorney, and then issue a decision. The decision will rarely be given at the hearing itself. It is usually about 90 days after the hearing before a written decision can be expected.

The written decision, if favorable, is the trigger for the beginning of the payment process. Unfortunately, it can still be several more months until money is in the hands of a successful claimant. In SSI claims the claimant is called into the District Office for an interview to establish current financial qualification. They may get a check within 60 to 120 days or longer. Regular disability cases are paid from a payment office in another part of the country and have similar delays.

In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Social Security administrative hearings are held at three primary locations. The Fort Worth Hearing Office is located at Federal Office Building, Room 9A27, 819 Taylor Street, Fort Worth 76102. There are two offices in Dallas. The Dallas Downtown Hearing Office is at Plaza of the Americas, South Tower, Suite 300, 600 Pearl Street, Dallas 75201. The Dallas North Hearing Office is at Park Central VIII, 8th Floor, 12770 Merit Drive, Dallas 75251.

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