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SSDI Hearings: Hurry Up and Wait

By Kenton Koszdin Law Office on April 9, 2014 | In Social Security Claims Process

When seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, it is always best to try to win your claim early in the process. The various appeal procedures can take months or even years to process. That why it is essential that you contact the legal professionals at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office in Los Angeles to assure that you take the correct steps before you find yourself in a lengthy and frustrating appeals process.

That being said, even if you do everything correctly there is no guarantee you will be awarded SSDI benefits after your initial application. In fact, the statistics bear this out. Some 70 percent of all disability claims are denied on the first application filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

If you are denied, you have the right to appeal that decision. The first step is called a reconsideration determination. Your file will go to someone who had no part in the first decision. If your claim is still denied, you have the right to appeal that decision and receive a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

This does not happen immediately. In fact, it has been estimated that the expected national wait time for a hearing before an ALJ in fiscal year 2014 will be 415 days. This is an increase over fiscal year 2013 when the average wait time for a hearing was 382 days.

And the wait time is not expected to get shorter in the future. Wait times for fiscal year 2015 are expected to soar to 435 days.

Of course these are national averages that do not reflect local wait times, which vary wildly. For instance, if you are scheduled for a hearing before an ALJ in the Downtown Los Angeles Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), you can expect, on average, an eight-month wait for a hearing. In the West Los Angeles ODAR, you can expect that wait time to be approximately 10 months. It takes an average of 12 months to get a hearing at the Norwalk ODAR.

Overall, the wait time in California in general is about 9.9 months

The approval rates in California also vary wildly at this stage of the appeals process; the Downtown Los Angeles ODAR approves 52 percent of cases at this stage, whereas the West Los Angeles ODAR approves only 40 percent of claims.

If you are denied at the hearing stage, you still have the right to request a review with the Appeals Council. If they deny you, then you can bring suit in federal court if you are dissatisfied with the decision.

As you can see, this can be a lengthy process that can try anyone’s patience. It is important, especially at a hearing before an ALJ that you have a SSDI benefits attorney by your side who is dedicated to seeing you get the benefits you deserve. Call the Kenton Koszdin Law Office toll-free at (800) 438-7734 or contact us online today to schedule a free review of your case.

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