Monday, March 23, 2009

If You Miss Your Social Security Disability Hearing

If you miss your social security disability hearing, one of two things will happen: 1) your hearing will be rescheduled; or 2) your case will be dismissed and you may find yourself in the position of having to file a new claim for disability with social security.

Obviously, the second option is the worse-case scenario. It can take many months for a claim to work its way through the first two levels of consideration within the state disability determination services (DDS) agency (the disability application and request for reconsideration), and if you have filed an appeal for a social security hearing before an administrative law judge you have an even longer wait ahead of you—backlogs in hearing offices across the country mean waits of 1 to 2 years in some states for a hearing to be scheduled. After waiting all that time to appear before a judge, and almost certainly enduring significant financial and emotional hardship along the way, the last thing anyone wants to do is start the whole process over.

And yet, that is exactly the position in which some claimants find themselves. Some fail to appear at their hearing because they didn’t even realize that their hearing was scheduled—notices get lost in the mail, or claimants move without notifying the social security office, hearing office, or their attorney for that matter, if they have one.

This is just another argument for having some kind of legal representation for your social security disability hearing. Not only will your disability attorney or non-attorney rep receive any notices from social security regarding your hearing, but the rep will also take steps to make sure you are aware of the hearing date and location (Typically, a rep will send a reminder notice of the hearing and may also call if you have not acknowledged receipt of either the notice from the hearing office or the reminder notice from the representative's office).

Claimants at social security hearings are more likely to win their cases than those who choose to represent themselves for a host of reasons, including the ability to point out flaws or errors in judgment in the disability examiners’ previous denials.

However, your disability representative can’t represent you if he or she can’t contact you. Always keep your representative informed of your current address and phone number, as well as if you have any conflict with the scheduled hearing date.

If you have good cause, i.e. a good reason for missing your disability hearing, such as transportation problems, illness, family emergency, etc., you may be able to get it rescheduled. This is a far better option that starting all over with a new claim, but still may involve an additional and significant wait before your case can be heard.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

How do I Apply for Disability Benefits - Notes on Applying for Disability
What are the chances of winning Social Security Disability or SSI on an appeal?
Who is eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability?
Tips for filing a Social Security Disability Reconsideration
How does a social security examiner determine disability ?
Social Security Disability and Past Work
How does Social Security Disability use your Work History? (other work)



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