Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
It is vitally important to get a lawyer involved in your case prior to your Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. It is much harder to win an appeal than it is to win your case at the ALJ hearing level. After an ALJ decision, the issue is not simply whether or not you are disabled (unable to work a gainful job). Instead, the issue on appeal from an ALJ decision is primarily whether Social Security has violated its regulations in the way in which they found you to be not disabled.
After an ALJ Hearing
Attorneys will look to the common areas in which Social Security may have run afoul of the regulations. Some of the most common violations include whether a proper analysis was set forth regarding a treating medical doctor’s opinion. Another common area of concern is whether Social Security has properly evaluated your symptoms and/or your testimony. When evaluating whether an appeal is likely to be successful on these topics, the issue is not simply a matter of whether or not you or your lawyer disagrees with the judge. In fact, the major issue is usually whether logical reasons were articulated by the ALJ for the decision that was reached.
Appeal of a Judge’s Decision
Many disability lawyers only represent clients through the ALJ hearing phase. Our firm represents clients through the ALJ hearing phase, the Appeals Council phase (the first appeal of a judge’s decision), and the Federal District Court level (the second appeal of a judge’s decision). However, just because we represent clients at all of these levels, does not mean that we can appeal every case to these levels of review. As noted above, if there is no legal error (rather than a mere disagreement as to disability status), an appeal of a judge’s decision is not likely to be successful.
While we are able to start representation after an ALJ’s decision, we find it most helpful to be the lawyer that has been involved with your case the whole time through- the application stage, the reconsideration stage, and the hearing stage. Continuity of representation at all levels allows us to make more informed decisions regarding the likelihood of success after an ALJ’s decision. Consistent representation with the same disability lawyers allows us to be more familiar with the medical file, the hearing testimony, and the overall strengths and weaknesses of a given case prior to the time that an appeal of a judge’s decision comes due.
Hiring a Disability Firm
If you are somebody who is interested in hiring a disability firm, you should inquire what the firm’s policy is in the unfortunate event that you lose at an ALJ hearing. Having a lawyer who is most familiar with your claim involved in the decision about whether to file an appeal of a judge’s denial should be a top priority.
If you have been denied Social Security at the initial or reconsideration level but have not yet had an ALJ hearing; the time to hire a disability lawyer is now. Please call our firm at the number noted on this website for a free consultation.