If you have a long-term and severe disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI and similar benefits are available for qualified applicants throughout Arkansas, but unfortunately, getting approved can be challenging. Roughly two-thirds of all claims are denied, but there may be a solution to denied disability benefits: if your claim is rejected, you can seek a new decision through a process known as “appeals.” In this article, our Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer discusses an especially important stage of the appeals process: the disability hearing. We’ll explain how you get a hearing, how long it takes to schedule a disability hearing, and what happens if you disagree with the results.
How Do You Get a Disability Hearing in Arkansas?
To understand how you obtain a disability hearing, it’s important to understand some background information about the process of applying for disability benefits in Arkansas. The process begins when you submit your claim to the SSA for review, such as an online application for SSDI benefits. Working with an experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer gives you the greatest odds of success, but you should be aware that many claimants are rejected at the initial review stage: approximately two out of every three applicants.
Since so many claims are denied, the SSA has established systems that enable rejected applicants to argue their cases and seek new decisions. By starting a process known as “appeals,” you can dispute a claim denial and potentially, secure disability benefits despite the initial rejection of your application.
Appeals is a multi-stage process, with slightly different rules and procedures observed in each state. Most claimants only need to proceed through one or two levels of the appeals process in order to obtain a favorable determination. The first level of appeals, known as “Reconsideration,” traditionally has a low success rate: only about 10%. Fortunately, the next stage of the appeals process has a much better statistical outlook, with nearly half of all claims approved. This stage is known as the “disability hearing” stage.
To reach the disability hearing stage of Social Security appeals, you must go through the process of (1) applying for disability benefits, (2) having your claim denied by the SSA, (3) filing for Reconsideration, and, finally, (4) having your claim denied for a second time, at the Reconsideration stage. Only at that point in the process – which some claimants never reach, due to acceptance upon initial review or at Reconsideration – does a disability hearing become necessary.
How Long Does it Take to Schedule a Disability Hearing?
If your claim is denied at the Reconsideration stage – which is, unfortunately, a common outcome in disability cases – your attorney can file for a disability hearing to continue the appeals process. Your hearing will likely be set for a date ranging anywhere from several months to several years in the future, which means you could be waiting for many weeks. An Arkansas disability lawyer can help to expedite the process, enabling you to receive your benefits that much sooner.
ALJs do not announce verdicts or rulings at the conclusion of the hearing. When your disability hearing ends, there is generally a waiting period of around one to two months before the ALJ issues you a written decision explaining the determination. In some cases, it may take longer for the ALJ to make a disability determination, depending on the complexity of the case.
What if You Don’t Agree with the Results of Your Disability Hearing?
There are more stages to the Social Security appeals process after a disability hearing. If you disagree with the ALJ’s findings and subsequent disability determination, you can potentially bring your case to the Appeals Council. Be advised that the Appeals Council can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to issue a decision. However, disability hearings have a relatively high rate of success, particularly when compared to Reconsideration.
Arkansas Disability Lawyers Can File Your Appeal if Your SSDI Claim Was Denied
If your disability claim was denied by the SSA, it may still be possible to get approved by working with an experienced Social Security lawyer in Arkansas, like disability attorney Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law. Whether you have questions about filing an SSDI claim in Arkansas, filing for benefits on behalf of your child, seeking Reconsideration or a disability hearing following the denial of your claim, or fighting the improper termination or suspension of your benefits, we are here to provide compassionate and comprehensive support that is tailored to your unique situation. To set up a free legal consultation, contact Gunn Kieklak Dennis online, or call our law offices at (479) 316-0438.