If you have a serious medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits, which are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). For example, you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which provide support for disabled workers who have earned “work credits” through past employment. Unfortunately, many SSDI claims are initially rejected, with roughly two-thirds of all claims denied. However, it may be possible to get your claim approved by attending a disability hearing. In this article, the Fayetteville AR disability lawyers of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP explain everything you need to know about disability hearings in Arkansas, including what happens at a disability hearing, how long the hearings usually take, whether Social Security hearings are open to the public, what happens if you disagree with the outcome of the hearing, and most importantly, how long it will take to receive your disability determination after the hearing.
What Happens at a Disability Hearing in Arkansas?
If your disability benefits claim was denied, you can seek a new decision by starting a process called “appeals.” The appeals process has several stages, which can vary from state to state. In Arkansas, the first stage or level of appeals is called “Reconsideration.” If Reconsideration does not result in a new decision, the applicant can continue the appeals process by proceeding to next stage, which is to attend a disability hearing. Disability hearings are presided over by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), whose role is to review the evidence, ask you questions, and ultimately, make a decision about whether your disability claim should be accepted or rejected.
How Long Are Disability Hearings?
While every situation is different, and some cases are more complex than others, disability hearings generally do not last for more than an hour or two. Some hearings may be as short as 15 or 20 minutes.
As is true of any court appearance, it is recommended that you arrive early and well-prepared for your hearing. Your disability attorney will help you prepare by discussing the types of questions and procedures you can expect to encounter. Your attorney will also help to ensure that the ALJ receives all of the necessary information about the nature and severity of your disability.
Are Disability Hearings Open to the Public?
Unlike many other types of legal proceedings, Social Security disability hearings are generally closed to the public, ensuring that you have a reasonable degree of privacy during the proceedings. In most instances, the only people in attendance will be you and your attorney, the ALJ presiding over the case, attorneys and court assistants, and one or several expert witnesses. We understand that there are often concerns around privacy where medical information is concerned, and take careful measures to help protect our clients’ sensitive data.
How Long Does it Take for a Disability Decision After the Hearing?
Now that you have some background on what disability hearings are, how long they take, and who is normally in attendance, it’s time to address the question that brought you here: how long will it take to receive your disability determination after the hearing?
It’s important to emphasize that, unfortunately, you will not receive the decision the same day of the hearing. Instead, you will receive written notification after the hearing concludes, generally within one to two months or about 30 to 60 days. That means you should plan, to the greatest degree possible, for a delay of up to roughly eight weeks between the date of your hearing and the date on which you receive a decision. In some cases, it may take as long as three to four months to receive a disability determination after the hearing. No matter how complex or straightforward your claim may be, working with an experienced disability benefits lawyer can help to simplify and expedite the process, making it easier to get the benefits you deserve sooner.
What if I Disagree with the ALJ’s Disability Decision?
As mentioned earlier, there are multiple levels to the disability appeals process in Arkansas. If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision after your disability hearing, it may be possible to take your case to the Appeals Council, which is the next stage of appeals following the disability hearing phase.
Arkansas Disability Benefits Lawyer for Help Filing SSDI Claims
If you need help appealing a denied disability claim in Arkansas, rely on the experienced disability attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis for compassionate, around-the-clock legal support. We have decades of experience helping disabled workers apply for disability in Arkansas, appeal denied SSDI claims, and challenge the premature or improper termination of benefits. For a free legal consultation about SSDI and other disability benefits in Arkansas, contact Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP online today, or call our law offices at (479) 316-0438.