Social Security Disability Hearing Offices are officially known as Offices of Hearings Operations (OHO). Previously, they were known as Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). Statistically, this is where most Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claims will be approved.
A Request for Hearing is the third step in the process and the second level of appeal that you can file in the Social Security Disability claim process. Your appeal will be forwarded from your local Social Security field offices to an OHO office to be processed. Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) have the authority to review the previous decisions made by the SSA and hold hearings at OHO offices. There are multiple ALJs assigned to each OHO office.
Where are OHO Offices Located?
There are 10 regional offices that oversee more than 160 OHO offices across the United States and around 1,600 ALJs holding hearings at these offices. OHO offices are located throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. You can find a list of OHO offices on the SSA website using the hearing office locator.
What Does an Administrative Law Judge Do?
The ALJ will apply the five step sequential evaluation process to the evidence in your file to determine if you are disabled. During the hearing, the judge will ask you questions about your educational history, your past work, and your limitations. If present, the ALJ will also question any medical or vocational experts.
ALJ Approval and Denial Rates
The ALJ assigned to hear your case can have a major impact on the outcome of your case. Every ALJ has different approval and denial rates. This means that some judges are more likely to approve a claim, but some are more likely to deny a claim, even if they are presented with the same evidence. Unfortunately, claimants do not get to decide which ALJ is assigned to their case.
An experienced Social Security Disability attorney will be familiar with the ALJs and will understand their different biases and whether they are likely to approve a claim. This is one of the main reasons that a claimant represented by a lawyer is more likely to be approved for benefits.
What To Expect From the Social Security Administration Prior to Your ALJ Hearing
After you submit your Request for Hearing, the OHO will send you a letter confirming that they have received your request. You should also receive an exhibit list, which is a list of all the documentation in the file. If you do not receive an exhibit list, you should contact the OHO and request one. You can review this list to determine if any of your medical evidence is missing.
In addition to the exhibit list, you should also receive a CD-ROM with all your claim documentation in digital format. You should review the medical evidence in your file to see if there is any inaccurate information or if there are any diagnoses or test results that your doctor may have left out.
If there is information missing from your file, it is not too late. You can continue to submit medical evidence up to five business days prior to your scheduled hearing date.
At some point, you will receive a letter from the OHO informing you of the date and time of your hearing. Unfortunately, you may be in for a long wait. Sometimes it takes a year or longer to get a hearing date.
Ortiz Law Firm helps claimants nationwide receive Social Security Disability benefits. He has been practicing law since 2001 with a focus on representing disabled workers as of 2005.
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If you need a Social Security Disability attorney to represent you at your hearing, call us today at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a free case evaluation.