Anyone involved in the Social Security Administration process of appeals and final decisions concerning American’s social security benefits knows what an administrative law judge (ALJ) does. The ALJ is the one that administers hearings to resolve a dispute between a government agency and someone who feels they were wronged by that agency.

ALJs work for the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR). If someone is attempting to receive social security benefits then an ALJ is going to be looking at all the facts.

The ALJ’s role in the SSA appeals process

When you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the SSA will review your case and send you a letter explaining their decision.

If you are denied benefits, you can ask for a reconsideration appeal, which means the SSA will take another look at your case.

If your reconsideration appeal is also denied, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge. This means that before a case ever reaches an ALJ at ODAR, it has already been denied twice by the SSA. The ALJ has no part in the original decision or the reconsideration appeal that was made by the SSA. Your disability hearing will be held at the ODAR office nearest to your home (usually within 75 miles) and you will be expected to attend in person. You also have the option of bringing a representative (a disability attorney) with you to your hearing.

After your hearing, the judge will make a decision based on all the information in your case and the SSA will send you a letter with a copy of the judge’s decision.