The Role of an Administrative Law Judge

In some areas, the administrative law judge may travel to other sites such as local Social Security offices to conduct hearings.

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is an official who presides at an administrative trial-type hearing to resolve a dispute between a government agency and someone affected by a decision of that agency. The Social Security Administration has a branch called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). In this branch, there are over 1,100 administrative law judges nationwide. There are 141 hearing offices in the United States where these administrative law judges conduct hearings for the Social Security Administration. In some areas, the administrative law judge may travel to other sites such as local Social Security offices to conduct hearings. Disability hearings are the same for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

In Southern California, there are 8 Hearing Offices:

  • Long Beach, CA
  • Los Angeles (Downtown), CA
  • Los Angeles (West), CA
  • Orange, CA
  • Pasadena, CA
  • San Bernardino, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Santa Barbara, CA

Before the hearing, an ALJ will normally read your social security file, which, at the time of a hearing, is referred to as an exhibit file.

Medical Expert / Vocational Expert

In some cases, an ALJ may request that a medical expert and/or vocational expert be at the hearing. Vocational experts provide input regarding the availability of jobs that someone with your disability might be able to perform. Medical experts are M.D.’s who help the judge understand your medical records and the physical limitations that can be caused by your disability. Medical and Vocational experts are contracted by the SSA and are well-compensated for their services.

At your hearing, the ALJ will allow you (or your representative/attorney) to present new medical evidence, which may strengthen a disability claim and/or refute the findings reached previously by the DDS examiners.

After your hearing is over, the ALJ will consider all the evidence and testimony that was presented and will either approve your request for disability or deny your request. You will receive a decision letter in the mail sometime after your hearing informing you of the judge’s decision.  It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months before you receive your decision letter.

Administrative Law Judges generally approve a far greater percentage of claims in which claimants have representation, rather than vice-versa. For this reason, you should never consider going to a disability hearing without qualified representation. If you are represented by an experienced disability attorney, then the chances of winning you hearing can be as high as 80-90%.

Contact Us

For experienced legal representation and an aggressive pursuit of your SSDI or SSI claims, contact Jorgensen Law with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles or Riverside, California. For assistance, schedule a free consultation at our office by  email or by calling 1-888-855-2948

Representing SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY and SSI claims in the following counties and cities: San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, and the Inland Empire. In San Diego, we specifically work with Fallbrook, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, La Jolla, Lemon Grove, National City, Spring Valley, Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Ramona, Murrieta, Moreno Valley, corona, San Bernardino, Fontana, Ontario, and Imperial Valley.