What is an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?

by Editorial Board on August 18, 2010 · 1 comment

in Questions & Answers,Basics of SSD,Social Security Hearings

ALJ is an acronym for Administrative Law Judge.  An ALJ is appointed by and works for the federal government’s Social Security Administration.  If your initial Social Security Disability application and request for reconsideration are both denied, you may file a request for a hearing before an ALJ.

The ALJ hearing your case is an unbiased and independent adjudicator, meaning he or she was not involved in any of the prior decisions in your claim and is not bound by any of them.  The ALJ will read your claim file, your medical records, and listen to your testimony, as well as the testimony of any experts he or she requests be present at your hearing before making a new decision in your case.

ALJs usually work out of local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) hearing offices, although some ALJs travel to areas without formal offices to conduct hearings in hotels or other similar locations.  Generally an ALJ will come from a hearing office close to where you live.

How many claims an ALJ approves varies from judge to judge.  Some judges have a much higher rate of granting disability benefits than others.   ALJs are assigned cases randomly and are very rarely removed from hearing a particular claim.  No matter which ALJ is assigned to hear your claim, your chances of winning at your hearing are substantially better if you maintain respect and courtesy for the ALJ hearing your case and for any of the experts he or she requests to be present at your hearing.

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