Once your application is filed with the Social Security Administration for benefits from the Disability Insurance program, you wait. Within a few months, you will receive notice of whether you have been approved, or like the majority of applications, been denied.
While a denial is never good news, you can appeal your ruling. In most states, like Illinois, you would request a reconsideration, where your application would be reviewed by a different claims' examiner from the one who initially reviewed your disability application. In Missouri, SSA is experimenting with sending denials directly to an appeals hearing with a Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
The ALJ is a lawyer who has additional training on legal and medical issues related to SSD claims. Before the hearing, SSA may request additional information and you should update your application with additional medical or work-related documents that support your case. Providing additional medical records and recent results of tests or treatments for your impairing conditions can help your case.
At the hearing, the ALJ will ask questions. You can appear alone, but most claimants will feel more comfortable at the hearing with a representative, such as their SSD attorney, who can help them with answering questions posed by the ALJ and with the presentation of their evidence.
After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision based on all of the evidence presented. At the moment, the wait to get a hearing date is severe. In the Creve Coeur hearing office the time from the date the appeal is filed to the date of hearing is running 21 months in most cases. We hope this changes, but for now Social Security has a hiring freeze.