December 22, 2014

Second Appeal

If a claimant with fibromyalgia is denied a second time (after having filed their first appeal), then he/she will have an opportunity to appeal again by requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Again, there is a sixty-day time limit in which to file a request for a hearing.

A word of advice, due to the backlog of cases, it is not uncommon for the SSA to take months (even years) before a hearing is set.  If an individual is unable to attend the first hearing, he/she should be prepared for a considerable amount of time to pass before another hearing is scheduled.  Claimants need to make all necessary arrangements in order that they can attend the first scheduled hearing.

The Social Security Disability hearing is an applicant’s first opportunity to be present in front of an ALJ.  In some locations, hearings are conducted with the ALJ physically present.  However, in many of instances, ALJ’s are only present via a remote satellite or via video teleconferencing.  Although the ALJ is not physically present, both the claimant and the judge are able to see, hear and communicate with each other.

Because disability judges are independent and somewhat autonomous, they have greater flexibility in the decision process than, say, some of the people making the decisions at the lower levels. They are simply not restricted by the system protocol that is seen at the lower levels. This often works to the claimant’s advantage. During a hearing, ALJ’s are able to see and speak to claimants for the first time. This provides the claimant a unique opportunity to tell his/her story.