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Ledgerwood Law Group

Administrative Law Judge & Your Chico SSDI Claim in Disability Court

It’s incredibly frustrating to wait more than eight months to hear back on an application for Social Security disability benefits. It’s beyond frustrating to have your claim denied. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration offers applicants the opportunity to appeal denied claims in disability court.

The decision maker who will preside over your California claim appeal hearing will be the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The federally appointed ALJ will be employed at one of California’s Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), which are run through the SSA. There are several ODAR locations in Northern California.

What is the job of an Administrative Law Judge?

The judge reviews your file and presides over your claim appeal hearing.

While every judge has his or her own system, it’s not unusual for the ALJ to begin to review your claim history on the same day as your trial. They’ll start by examining your exhibit file, or the comprehensive history of your case. The exhibit file can contain:

  • Your original application for benefits
  • Your medical records
  • Doctor’s letters and RFC forms
  • Notarized letters from people who have direct experience with your disabilities, such as social workers, caregivers, supervisors, family and friends
  • Employment history
  • Social Security earnings record (when applying for SSDI)
  • The disability determination, or the document explaining why you were denied, from the disability examiner who handled your case at DDS

Who will take part in my hearing?

Though the exhibit file contains a lot of information, it won’t give the judge your whole story. At your hearing, the judge will learn more by speaking with:

  • A vocational expert – This person can offer informed opinions on the sorts of jobs a person with your medical condition is able to perform.
  • A medical expert – This professional can interpret your medical records for the judge. Typically, this expert will specialize in a field related to your medical condition.
  • You – Or your legal representation, who may have persuasive new evidence related to your condition to demonstrate to the court.

California disability court is generally more likely to reverse a denial when the claimant is using an attorney.

An attorney knows the language of the California disability claim appeal process. They’re much more likely to build a persuasive case to present to the ALJ. Additionally, working with an attorney will protect you from personally making a mistake that could cost you the case.

The judge won’t make a decision while you are in court, but notify you with the decision several weeks or months afterward.

To learn more about how you can improve the odds of winning a Northern California claim appeal, schedule a free consultation with a member of the Ledgerwood Law Group today. Call 888-761-7383 or fill out the online contact form.


Thomas Ledgerwood
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Proprietor Ledgerwood Law Group