Many North Carolina applicants for Social Security Disability may be concerned about the impact of an upcoming hearing before administrative law judges regarding their applications. After applying for SSD benefits, a claimant will go through an initial review process. If denied at that level, he or she can seek a reconsideration appeal. At these levels, there is little that an applicant can do to supplement the record or avoid a denial as disability examiners will review the record based on the original application and the additional materials they seek out.
In every state, applicants for Social Security Disability benefits face a higher rejection rate at these levels than before administrative law judges, who make decisions at disability hearings. During the disability examiner stage, people applying for benefits cannot meet the decision-maker, answer questions about matters of concern or seek out additional medical testimony to support their claims. However, at a disability hearing, people applying for SSD have an opportunity to add to their file, ensure their medical records are complete and answer questions directly about their work and medical histories.
In addition, at a disability hearing, an applicant's own doctor can present an opinion to the court. Disability attorneys will often emphasize the importance of obtaining a detailed statement from a claimant's physician, which can carry a great deal of weight in the hearing. On the other hand, disability examiners rarely fully consider the applicant's physician as a major source of medical information.
When an applicant goes through a disability hearing after first being denied at the lower levels, he or she has a substantially better chance of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits. A disability lawyer can help claimants present their cases as clearly and effectively as possible at all levels of the process to help them secure the benefits they need.