Disability Advocates Group regularly represents clients in disability hearings throughout Southern California. If your disability benefits claim has been denied, an important part of the appeals process is attending a disability hearing. Although relatively informal, a disability hearing is a complicated administrative proceeding that requires having an adept disability lawyer by your side. 

Our legal team handles all phases of disability appeals, including representing clients at disability hearings. When you partner with us, we will guide you through the process. As dedicated advocates of the disabled, we are committed to helping you obtain the benefits you need and deserve. Please contact our office today to speak with our disability attorneys. 

Why are disability claims denied? 

While Social Security disability benefits are designed to provide vital financial resources to individuals who cannot work due to a medical impairment, the majority of initial claims are denied for the following reasons: 

  • The application contained errors and omissions
  • The applicant did not acquire enough work credits (SSDI)
  • The claimant failed the means test (SSI)
  • The impairment does not meet Social Security’s definition of a disability
  • The medical information does not support the claim

If Social Security denies your claim, you will receive a letter informing you of the reason for the denial and your right to an appeal. The first step in the appeals process is filing a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the denial letter. 

In a reconsideration claim, a disability examiner who was not involved in the initial decision will review the claim. It is worth noting that less than 20 percent of reconsideration claims are approved. 

Within 60 days of receiving a reconsideration denial, it is necessary to request a disability hearing. Our disability lawyers can help to build a case that supports your claim and will advocate for you at the hearing. When you work with our winning legal team, you increase the likelihood of obtaining the benefits you deserve. 

What happens at disability hearings in Southern California?

A disability hearing is not a court proceeding but an informal meeting run by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is not required to follow prior decisions and will look at your claim from a fresh perspective. 

The only individuals that may be present at your disability hearing will be you, your attorney, the ALJ, and a hearing monitor who is in charge of the equipment in the hearing room and assists the judge, and a medical and/or vocational expert called by the ALJ.   

At the hearing, you will be asked to testify about your prior work history (if any), your medical impairments, your inability to work and your daily life.  The ALJ may choose to ask the questions, or the ALJ may ask your attorney to ask the questions. In either case, your attorney should always have an opportunity to ask the questions they need to create an appropriate record for your claim.

The ALJ usually does not rule on the claim at the hearing.  Instead, you are usually notified in writing. Receiving this notification can take anywhere from 30-120 days.  If the ALJ denies your claim, the next step in the appeals process is to request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. It is important to note that you must follow each step of the appeals process in order. If the council denies your claim, you can proceed with a lawsuit in federal court to have the decision overturned. 

What Not To Say At Social Security Disability Hearing?

  1. Exaggeration hurts your case. Stick to documented symptoms and avoid minimizing or catastrophizing.
  2. Irrelevant details distract. Focus on how your impairments limit your work, not personal struggles or side issues.
  3. Arguments and hostility erode trust. Be respectful, answer questions honestly, and avoid defensiveness.

Remember, honesty and clarity are key to a successful hearing.

What is the Maximum Back Payment for SSDI?

In California, the maximum back pay for SSDI depends on the date you apply and the date your disability began. You can receive up to 12 months of back pay from your application date, or back to the disability onset date, whichever is later. Keep in mind, if the total back pay exceeds $27,420 (2023 federal maximum monthly benefit x 12), it will be paid in installments over 6 months unless you qualify for exceptions based on specific debts or expenses.

What Is The 5 Year Rule For Social Security Disability?

The “5-Year Rule” in Social Security Disability isn’t actually a formal rule, but a common guideline used by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It helps them assess whether your disability is severe enough to last at least five years or lead to death. Meeting this criteria strengthens your case for qualifying for benefits under Social Security law.

Contact Our Los Angeles Disability Hearings Lawyer

If you are facing a disability hearing, Disability Advocates Group can help. We have extensive experience preparing our clients for hearings before an Administrative Law Judge and know how to prepare your file and you for the hearing.  This preparation is essential to winning your case at this level or, if you do not win at this level, to prepare your case for further appeals. Please contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.