At the Office of Hearings Operations, administrative law judges (ALJs) conduct hearings and issue decisions on appeals that have been denied at the initial and reconsideration levels of review. If you disagree with a reconsideration determination you may ask for a hearing. After you request a hearing the ALJ will send you a notice telling you the date, time, and place for your hearing. Before the hearing you can look at the information in your file and submit new information. Any new information must be received by the ALJ no later than 5 business days before the hearing. At the hearing, the ALJ explains the issues in your case and questions you and other witnesses. After the hearing the ALJ issues a written decision.
You are required to be present at your disability hearing unless some extraordinary situation exists. You are expected to testify truthfully, under oath, and provide information about how your medical conditions affect your ability to work. If a parent has applied for their minor child, the parent and child are expected to appear at the hearing. Sometimes, a child is excluded from the hearing if the ALJ determines he or she does not need to be present.
A disability hearing generally takes an hour from start to finish. The ALJ explains the issues in your case and will question you and any witnesses you bring to the hearing. You can provide testimony, present witnesses, and cross examine any witnesses called by the ALJ. It is your opportunity to explain in your own words directly to the decision maker how your medical conditions affect your ability to work. The hearing is informal but recorded. After the hearing, the ALJ issues a written decision after considering all the evidence. You and your representative receive a copy of the hearing decision. If you are found not disabled by an ALJ after a hearing, you have 60 days to appeal to the Appeals Council. The time period may be shortened if the denial was after the second hearing on the same issues.
Hearings are generally held at a location within 75 miles of your home. You are notified the date, location, and time of your hearing at least 75 days in advance. It is very important that you attend your hearing. A failure to attend can result in a dismissal of your claim.
There are several things a claimant can do to help their case during the hearing process. If you want a representative, you should appoint one as soon as possible. This will allow time to review your file and prepare for the hearing. If you wait until the date of the hearing or shortly before, you may have to postpone your hearing date in order to allow the representative adequate time to prepare. A representative can make sure that all new or updated medical and other evidence you need to be considered is timely submitted, or request that a favorable decision be made without the need for a hearing in certain situations.
Attorneys at Martone Law Firm are local and familiar with all the ALJs in New Mexico. We have represented claimants at thousands of disability hearings. Each ALJ conducts his or her hearing procedures a little differently, and an experienced attorney can assist you with the best practice for presenting your case to a particular ALJ. We meet with you prior to your hearing to review all the evidence in your file, gather additional evidence, and prepare you for the questioning at the hearing.
Contact Martone Law Firm today to find out how we can help you prove your disability at an Administrative Hearing.