Many people wait months and even years for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to determine whether they meet the Social Security definition of disability. At least 20 days prior to your scheduled hearing, you will receive a Notice of Hearing that will indicate the date, time, and location of your hearing. If you have representation, then your attorney will also receive a copy of the notice of hearing. The notice also includes an acknowledgment of hearing form in which you indicate whether or not you will be present at your hearing. You should follows the instructions to complete the form and mail it back to the hearing office, also known as the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), using the envelope provided.
The notice itself indicates that if you are not able to attend the hearing at the scheduled date and time to contact them immediately with the reason for such. The notice also reminds you of your right to representation at your hearing.
If you have acknowledged that you will be present at your hearing, but you fail to appear at the scheduled date, time, and location then your request for a hearing could be dismissed if you do not provide a good reason. Certain circumstances arise that are beyond an individual’s control, such as the symptoms of their illness, transportation issues, severe weather, or simply getting lost on the way to the hearing. It is imperative that you contact the ODAR or your attorney, if you have representation, as soon as possible if you will not arrive to your hearing on time or if you will miss your hearing completely.
If you are not represented and fail to provide a good reason for your failure to appear, then the Judge may dismiss your request for hearing without further notice and the prior decision in your claim will become the final decision in your application.
If you are represented by an attorney who does appear on your behalf but you fail to appear, then Judge cannot dismiss your request for hearing. However, the Judge can issue a Notice to Show Cause which is mailed to you. You will have only 10 days to respond to the Notice which asks for you to provide in writing the reason for your failure to appear at your hearing. The Judge will then evaluate your individual circumstances in their determination as to whether or not you had good reason for not failing to appear. Judges must follow a specific procedure as outlined in section 1-2-4-25 of the HALLEX (https://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-4-25.html). If the Judge finds that you had a good reason for failing to appear, then your hearing will be re-scheduled. If the Judge concludes that you did not have a good reason for failing to appear, then your request for a hearing would be dismissed and the prior decision in your claim would become the final decision to your application.
Your hearing date is important; however, events may arise that are beyond your control and despite your best efforts you may miss your hearing. It only makes sense to have a disability lawyer represent you, in which case they would be present to protect your claim against a dismissal.