It’s hard to win if you don’t show up to your Social Security Hearing

Well, it happened again last week – I could hear a judge lamenting the fact that a person who had a disability hearing scheduled did not show up.  From the sounds of it, the judge was ready to approve the case, but wanted to see the claimant in-person.  While this person’s case will probably not be thrown out without the judge asking the person to explain him or herself, it is certainly going to delay things. And if there is one thing I can say about most of my clients, it’s that they need money and insurance sooner rather than later.

The Social Security Administration has a guidebook called the HALLEX.  SSA has the following to say about the HALLEX:

Through HALLEX, the Deputy Commissioner for Disability Adjudication and Review conveys guiding principles, procedural guidance, and information to Office of Disability Adjudication and Review staff. HALLEX defines procedures for carrying out policy and provides guidance for processing and adjudicating claims at the hearing, Appeals Council, and civil action levels.

This HALLEX section deals with a no-show claimant.  Most likely a notice to show cause will be issued.  This will place the burden on the missing claimant to explain why he or she did not make it into the hearing.  If the judge finds that good cause was established, then the hearing will be rescheduled.  If the judge finds that good cause was not established, the case will likely be dismissed.  The judge is urged by HALLEX to consider the following:

Before dismissing a claimant’s [request for hearing] for failure to appear, the ALJ must ensure that the claimant fully understood the possible consequences of his or her failure to appear. This requires documentation in the record that the claimant received the Notice of Hearing.

It is interesting to note that if the claimant has a representative, HALLEX says:

NOTE: If a representative appears at a scheduled hearing without the claimant, dismissal is never appropriate.

If the person would have had the attorney or representative, that person could have let the judge know that HALLEX gives the judge another good solution if the case is very strong to begin with:
If the evidence of record appears to support a fully favorable decision and thus the hearing may not be necessary, the ALJ should consider whether he or she can issue a fully favorable decision instead of dismissing the [request for hearing].

At the end of the day, it is best to show up to your hearing.  If you have a good reason for missing it, you might get a second chance.  Why increase the time your case takes?  Most people are waiting between one and two years to get their hearings scheduled.

Attorney B. Thomas Golden practices Social Security disability and SSI law from his offices in Ionia, Michigan and Lowell, Michigan.  He can be reached by calling (616) 897-2900 or (616) 527-9700.  Initial consultations are always free. So if you are wondering about how to apply for disability benefits, or wondering how to appeal a denial of Social Security benefits, please call us today.

B. Thomas Golden

Tom Golden practices law from his offices in Ionia and Lowell, Michigan. He focuses on serving disabled and disadvantaged individuals by standing up for their rights. Whether he is suing suing billion dollar companies or standing up to the federal government, you can trust that Tom will protect his clients and serve as a booming voice for those who would otherwise be silenced.