The administrative judge hearing is the last administrative stage in a Social Security or SSI appeal. It takes well over a year, possibly more, to get a hearing after the hearing request. Hearings are meant to be informal, fact-finding procedures.
The people present at the hearing are the claimant and the attorney, the judge and the hearing assistant, who is there simply to record the hearing. Sometimes medical and vocational experts are also in attendance. The job of these experts is to give an opinion on the case, based on the record and testimony.
There is no “prosecutor” at the hearing, no lawyer for Social Security to cross-examine the claimant. The hearings usually take about an hour. The judges will sometimes ask questions first and then allow the attorney to direct questions to the claimant. Some judges let the attorney ask questions first. In either event, the main information covered is age, educational background including vocational training, work history and disabilities. The disability can be mental or physical. The decision will rarely be given at the hearing itself.
The written decision, if favorable, is the trigger for the beginning of the payment process. Unfortunately, it can still be several more months until money is in the hands of a successful claimant.