Dismissals of Social Security Disability Hearing Requests
Social Security Disability claimants wait a very long time for their Social Security Disability Hearings. When an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) improperly dismisses a Request for Hearing, the claimant has two choices:
- File an Appeal to the Appeals Council
- File a new claim
There are substantial time delays for each of the above choices.
Social Security regulations set forth clear directions and procedures to ALJ’s when they dismiss a Request for Hearing.
There are three types of dismissals with respect to Requests for Hearings:
- Untimely Requests for Hearings
- Abandonment Dismissals
- Withdrawal Dismissals
Untimely Requests for Hearings
An ALJ may dismiss a Request for Hearing if it is not filed within 65 days of the date on the denial letter. The ALJ must provide a complete rationale explaining why the ALJ has found that the claimant has not shown good cause for late filing.
Hearing office employees should send claimants a letter requesting an explanation for late filing and document that the letter has sent.
If a claimant can show that he/she did not receive the denial with the 65 day time frame, the ALJ may rescind the dismissal and hold the hearing.
If a claimant does not respond to the hearing office, the ALJ may dismiss the claim based on abandonment.
Hearing office employees must attempt to contact the claimant and document all attempts to contact the claimant.
When a claimant requests that the hearing request be withdrawn, the ALJ may dismiss the Request for Hearing.
Hearing office employees should document in the claimant’s case folder that the claimant wanted to withdraw the hearing request.
After studying Hearing Dismissals, the Office of Inspector General has made the following recommendations:
- Remind hearing office employees to send claimants a letter requesting an explanation for late filing, when required, and document in the claimant’s case folder that the letter was sent.
- Remind ALJs to ensure hearing request dismissals are supported by complete rationales explaining why the ALJ found that the claimant had not shown good cause for late filing.
- Establish controls to ensure hearing requests that appear to meet the criteria for dismissal are assigned to ALJs immediately for timely action.
- Remind hearing office employees to attempt to contact claimants who do not acknowledge receipt of the hearing notice, as required, and document in the claimant’s case folder all attempts to contact the claimant.
- Consider reminding hearing office employees to document in the claimant’s case folder that the claimant wanted to withdraw the hearing request.
- Determine whether factors are present that explain variances in dismissal rated among ODAR’s regions, hearing offices, and ALJs.
To increase your chances of winning your Social Security Disability claim it is important for you to hire an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to get you the Social Security Disability help you deserve. Please call us at 1-800-882-5500 or fill out a form on our website for a FREE claim evaluation.