Unfortunately, many times an individual’s application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is initially denied. However, an applicant can appeal that decision.

 One step in the appeals process is having a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It is very important for applicants in Tennessee to be as prepared as possible for such a hearing, to increase their chances for success. And, part of being prepared is understanding what happens during such a hearing.

First of all, keep in mind that one can have an attorney by their side throughout the application and appeals process, to represent their case and provide one with information about Social Security Disability laws.

Prior to the hearing, the applicant and his or her attorney, or other representative, should look over the evidence in their initial application. Then, they should submit to the ALJ any other new evidence the applicant feels will help their case. This should be done as soon as possible, so that the ALJ has time to review all of the information.

At the hearing, the ALJ will explain what issues are present in the applicant’s case. The ALJ also has the right to question the applicant, as well as question any witnesses the applicant may have brought on his or her behalf. Such questioning is done under oath, and although the hearing is not formal, it will be recorded.

After that, the applicant and his or her attorney, or other representative, have the right to ask their witnesses questions. In addition, they can submit any new documentation or other types of evidence.

After the hearing, and after considering all the evidence, the ALJ will make a decision. The applicant and his or her attorney, or other representative, will then receive a written copy of the decision, or of the order to dismiss the applicant’s case.

As this shows, the hearing before an ALJ is an important part of the appeals process. The ALJ has the ability to either grant SSD benefits, or determine that the applicant is ineligible for benefits. If that is the case, then the applicant can request that the Appeals Council review their application for SSD benefits.