As some individuals in New Jersey may know, Social Security disability applications routinely get rejected. But a rejection should not be seen as the end, but rather the start of the process. This post will focus on the second level of appeal for those with a denied claim — a disability hearing before an administrative law judge.

To obtain a disability hearing, applicants must request an administrative hearing within 60 days of reaching the end of the first stage (i.e., after they have filed a petition, had it denied, and then requested reconsideration, which was also rejected).

Following the request, the Social Security Administration will provide information on when and where the hearing will take place. The notice must be provided at least 20 days before the hearing. The notice will include the time, date and place of the hearing.

The hearing will generally take between 15 minutes to an hour. The more complex the case, the longer it will take. In complex cases, for example, the judge may hear testimony from multiple witnesses and experts. The judge may also spend time asking these witnesses questions.

Procedurally, the judge will begin the hearing by introducing the case and explaining the issues that need to be decided. From there, the judge will ask the applicant and, if applicable, any witnesses about the disability and how it affects the applicant’s ability to work. If the judge does not ask any questions, the applicant can request the opportunity to speak.

Following the hearing, the judge will review the evidence and issue a written decision. That decision will be sent to the applicant or the applicant’s representative. If the decision is favorable, great. If not, the decision can be further appealed.