Friday, April 29, 2011

SSA Prehearing

It typically takes the Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) over a year to schedule a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) after a disability claim has been denied. However, there is a regulation that allows an attorney advisor to approve a disability claim without having to wait for a hearing with an ALJ. The regulation, 20 C.F.R. § 404.942, was due to expire August 10, 2011, but earlier this month the SSA extended the program to August 13, 2013.

A 49 year old teleconference specialist retained me after his disability application was denied last February. On March 4, 2011, I received a copy of the claim file after the local Social Security office transferred the case to the Jericho hearing office. On April 1, 2011, I submitted a request for a fully favorable decision on-the-record (“OTR”). Today, I received a fully favorable decision today from an attorney advisor.

By using the prehearing process with the attorney advisor, the claimant’s application was approved in two months instead of having to wait over a year just to receive a hearing with an ALJ. The expedited receipt of benefits not only helped the claimant’s cash flow, but also resulted in his paying a smaller attorney fee.

Using the prehearing process with the attorney advisors at the Queens hearing office is even more important. As discussed in the New York Times and in my prior blog entries, a class action was brought accusing Queens ALJs David Z. Nisnewitz, Michael D. Cofresi, Seymour Fier, Marilyn P. Hoppenfeld and Hazel C. Strauss, who have low approval rates, with bias against claimants (the “Queens Five”). Not only can an attorney advisor expedite the processing of a disability claim in Queens, it can also avoid having to deal with the Queens Five.

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