There are certainly many functions that your attorney will perform outside of the actual hearing. Namely, your attorney will be examining your medical records as well as other exhibits in your Social Security file, crafting legal arguments, and working with paralegals to make sure that your file is complete before your hearing. There may also be issues that surface after your hearing that your attorney may need to resolve. However, this posting is going to discuss how your attorney can and will advocate on your behalf at your disability hearing.
A common belief SSI and SSDI applicants have going into their hearing before a judge is that the judge will rule immediately on their claim. Although judges will occasionally "tip their hand" or even announce a favorable decision form the bench, most judges will take their decision under advisement instead. Essentially, this means that the judge wants to think your case over. The judge may want to look at all of your medical records one more time in light of the testimony you provided or the testimony of other witnesses. The judge may also want to listen to the audio record of the hearing and hear the testimony one more time before deciding the case. If the judge takes the case under advisement, the judge will make his decision in the coming weeks. Rather than simply stamping "approved" or "denied" on your file, the judge will write (or instruct assistants to write) a detailed explanation of the decision. In his or her decision, the judge will work through the 5-step sequential evaluation process and apply the law to the facts of your case. Because of the large volume of cases and the degree of detail that goes into the decision writing process, many claimants must wait 2 or 3 months to receive a written decision.
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.
"How long will it take before I get my decision from the Judge?" is a question very frequently asked after a hearing. Unfortunately, there is no specific time frame in which an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is required to issue a formal written decision. The length of time depends on a range of variables, including any backlog of claims that any individual hearing office, also known as Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), must deal with.