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Letter From ODAR

Posted on in Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends claimants a number of letters and forms throughout the disability benefits process. While they often times take what seems like an eternity to respond to you, the claimant, when they send out documents they in turn expect an almost immediate response. Additionally, some of their documents can be quite confusing.

If you have applied for disability benefits and have been denied twice, you may find yourself in a position where you will need to file a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge. Shortly after you file the appeal, you may receive a letter from the hearing office with the following language:

Thank you for your request for a hearing before an administrative law judge(ALJ). This letter explains the hearing process and things that you should do now to get ready for your hearing. We will mail a Notice of Hearing to you at least 20 days before the date of your hearing to tell you its time and place.

The letter confirms that the appeal has been processed and usually has a barcode attached to it that should be used to send updated records and other evidence. At my law office, we typically refer to this letter as the "20 day letter." While we call the letter from the hearing office the "20 day letter," that is somewhat of a misnomer. In fact, at least twice a week my office will get a call from a claimant stating, "I have a hearing in 20 days and need help immediately." Or, a potential client will say "I don't have an attorney and my hearing is only a few weeks away."

The problem with the "20 day letter" is that the wording in the first paragraph leads claimants to believe that their hearing is going to be 20 days from the date of the letter. This is not the case. In fact, it is far from it. Click here if you would like to see the actual up to date average processing times for the hearing offices across the United States. If you are applying for disability benefits and receive a letter from the hearing office with the language above, make sure to read the correspondence carefully and if you have any questions call your disability lawyer or your hearing office.

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