If you appeal a denied Social Security disability benefits claim, the next key decision maker in your case will be the Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ. If you live in Sarpy County, Nebraska, the ALJ will hold a hearing on your claim at the hearing office in Omaha, Nebraska.

Like all administrative law judges, Social Security ALJs are appointed at the federal level. They work at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) through the Social Security Administration. While some states have multiple ODAR offices staffing several judges, Nebraska and Iowa each have one office in Omaha and West Des Moines.

What does the Administrative Law Judge do?

In preparation for your hearing, the judge obtains and reviews all the records and documents pertaining to your claim. This crucial piece of evidence is known as the exhibit file, and its contents include:

  • Medical records
  • Employment history
  • Social Security earnings record (if applying for SSDI)
  • Letters from your physician
  • Statements from caregivers, former employers, family members, and friends.
  • The disability determination from your assigned examiner at DDS or DDSB, a detailed write up explaining why you were denied benefits.

Next, the judge will preside over the hearing on your claim. At the hearing, the ALJ will hear additional testimonial and evidence pertaining to your medical condition and capacity to work.

Who will the ALJ question at my hearing?            

Besides the exhibit file, the judge will interview key individuals for important evidence for your case. The judge will probably want to speak with:

  • The applicant, or the applicant’s legal representative, about  the evidence supporting the claim or refuting some aspect of the disability determination.
  • A vocational expert will offer testimonial about what kinds of jobs, if any, an individual with your medical condition will be able to successfully perform.
  • A medical expert,  may be called by the ALJ . The medical expert may be a physician specializing in a field related to your medical condition. The medical expert will provide an interpretation of your medical records to assist  the ALJ, who is not a medical professional.

Anyone who is considering filing an appeal on a denied disability claim should know that a disability applicant that is  represented is generally more likely to be able reverse a denial.  Applicants that live in Bellevue and Sarpy County should consider choosing a Sarpy County disability attorney from Cuddigan Law.

The judge will not make a decision at the time of your hearing, but send notification weeks or months after the hearing has taken place.

If you’re ready to learn more about how you can improve the odds of winning a Nebraska SSDI appeal, call Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405, or email us at [email protected].

Be sure to request our free booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska