Orange County Social Security disability advocate

The Administrative Law Judge’s Role

As an Orange Social Security disability advocate will tell you, the person presiding at a Social Security disability hearing is the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing is not as formal as a court case, so the ALJ may not be wearing robes and you may not hear the “all rise” command when the judge walks into the room. But, as the jurist who is conducting the proceedings and deciding on the claim, the ALJ should be treated with respect.

Orange Social Security disability

The tone of the hearing will not be adversarial like a court case. It is not a trial, but rather an effort by a disabled person to demonstrate the need for entitled benefits. The judge will interview the claimant, but not like a stressful cross-examination or interrogation. If you are a claimant, expect a professional and cordial effort to learn the details supporting your claim.

What does the ALJ do? The judge will review your claim, listen to testimony, and decide whether you are eligible to receive disability benefits. This determination is independent of the prior notifications that denied your claim, which led to this further avenue of appeal to reconsider your case. (To get to the hearing stage, the claim will have already been turned down twice.)

Pros and cons of the hearing

Orange Social Security disability advocates want claimants to be aware of the positive and negative aspects of moving the claim to the hearing phase. Some applicants by this point are upset and frustrated because they feel that their claim should not have been denied. The wheels of government turn too slowly, and it’s just not fair to require a disabled person to deal with red tape and delays. This is an understandable reaction. But it is important not to take your frustrations out on the person who can help you now—the judge. In fact, the ALJ may be just as frustrated as you, since he or she is working with inside knowledge of the system.

Your Orange Social Security disability advocate will suggest that you not turn the tables and interrogate the judge about the problems with Social Security. Don’t ask what’s taking so long or why your claim was denied up till this point. In fact, do not ask the judge any questions, unless you are unclear about what is asked of you. Your legal representative and the judge will strive to turn legal language into understandable questions and instructions for you. But you may speak up politely if the process is unclear. You do not need to use fancy or unnatural language when answering the judge’s questions—just speak normally. No one expects the claimant to converse in legal or medical terms.

On a positive note, this level of appeal before a judge gives claimants the best chance of having their Social Security disability claim approved since, more often than not, ALJs rule in the filer’s favor.


If you need assistance with your disability claim and want to consult with a top Orange Social Security disability advocate, call us.