Appeal Process and Hearings in Akron Social Security Disability Cases

by Dean Pavick on March 12, 2012

In 2012, more than 3.3 million people are nationally expected to file for social security disability benefits.This represents a 50% increase in workers’ social security disability and SSI applications from a decade ago.In 2011,the Social Security Administration denied over two-thirds of filed disability claims on initial determination. A claimant has 60 days from receipt of an initial denial decision to file an appeal to the reconsideration level.On a national basis, approximately 87% of appeals are denied at the reconsideration level.There are several reasons for such a high denial rate.Firstly, these reviews are limited under the regulations and policies. A review is conducted by an examiner from the local Social Security Administration field office who basically develops the non-medical eligibility requirements (age,education, work experience , marital status,coverage etc.).Development of the medical/ disability evidence is handled by the Ohio Disability Determination Services(DDS).Often, all pertinent medical and hospital records as well as reports from the treating physician(s) fails to be obtained for one reason or the other leading to an incomplete evaluation of the claimant’s disability.Generally, those claimants who are awarded disability benefits at the first or second levels are determined to have met or equaled the impairment listings which listings are fairly strict.Secondly, most claimants are not represented by an attorney at these levels who fully understands the complex social security laws, regulations and policies.

If the disability claim is denied at the reconsideration level, there is a 60 day period from receipt of the denial decision to file a request for hearing before an administrative law judge.If a claimant lives in the Akron area(which also includes Canton,Medina,Ravenna,Youngstown,Warren,and New Philadelphia)the disability claim will be assigned to the Akron SSA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review(Akron ODAR) located in Main Place on South Main Street.Prior to the recent opening of the Akron ODAR, ALJ hearings were generally conducted in the Cleveland ODAR often resulting in long delays up to 24 months from the filing date of a hearing request until the actual hearing.At the Akron ODAR,there are 13 different administrative law judges(ALJ)conducting Social Security Disability(SSD)and Supplemental Security Income(SSI)hearings.The average wait time for SSD and SSI hearings in Akron is 12.0 months.The average for winning an SSI or SSD disability hearing is 51% according to statistics updated on 2/3/12.Recently, ODAR began a policy of not divulging the name of the assigned ALJ until the time of the actual hearing.Of course, not all claimants are represented by a social security disability lawyer at an ALJ hearing.Statistics suggest that with the representation by an experienced disability attorney,60%to 80% of cases are won at the ALJ level. The high percentage of wins with legal representation can be attributed to the disability lawyer’s knowledge of the inner workings of the Social Security disability process to present the facts and evidence of the disability claim in a manner that is most favorable to the claimant’s winning Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits.The disability attorney can also develop the evidentiary record in the event that further appeals are required to the Appeals Council or to Federal District Court.

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Pavick & Pavick L.P.A. have been helping injured people since 1950 serving – Northeast Ohio (AkronClevelandCantonYoungstown,Lorain, and Toledo)




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