“Hi, my name is Andrew Kinney. I am an attorney at Hoglund Law offices. I practice social security disability law. Today I wanted to talk about dismissal of hearings by Administrative Law Judges, otherwise known as ALJ’s.
When you apply for social security disability, there could be a big difference from the time you apply to the time of your hearing. Sometimes as much as 2 years or more depending on the area you live. By the time you get to your hearing you would have gotten a letter roughly 3 weeks in advance stating the time and location of your hearing. Well, people often relocate and can even lose contact with the attorney that’s helping them with their social security claim. So, sometimes we have dismissals of hearings by the SSA when someone doesn’t show up for their hearing.
Now I wanted to distinguish dismissals from withdrawals from hearings. Withdrawals would mean if someone is helping you with your social security claim and you decide that it’s in your best interest to not pursue the hearing, for instance if there’s not enough evidence and the attorney has given you good legal judgment on that. Sometimes you withdraw your hearing request and you re-file and start over and the last denial is the reconsideration denial. This is different. If you have a dismissal. That means that you didn’t show and there was no explanation why you didn’t show. If you have an attorney, you technically have a right to protect your right to a hearing by having the attorney show on your behalf, but at some point for you to get a proper hearing, it will be important to be able to appear at your hearing because there would be at least a rescheduling of one hearing.
So, if you have a dismissal of a hearing and you’re wondering what to do, the first thing you should do is call the hearing office. Also, call your attorney, if you have one, and find out what to do. Now there are some factors that are hard to quantify. For instance, if it’s over a year that you’ve missed your hearing and you’re first learning about it I have not had any experience where someone has been able to get a new hearing. But, if it’s within a certain amount of time since you’ve had your hearing and you’ve missed it, what’s very important is that you have an opportunity to offer what’s called the cause. Here’s why I missed my hearing, here’s my circumstances, it could be family emergency, it could be homelessness, it could be many factors. But, what the judges need to allow a new hearing and avoid a dismissal is a good reason to miss your first hearing. If you have an attorney that’s helping you, they will get involved.
Last winter we had examples of the snow being too bad to be able to get in to a hearing. Or, an inordinate amount of traffic. If there are some more practical reasons you couldn’t make it on time to your hearing those may have a better chance of getting a hearing rescheduled. So if you have a hearing dismissal letter or at least the threat for it, make sure to respond right away. If you find that it’s too late and you lost your right to a hearing, what you can do is re-file a new case, get an attorney, and help them re-open the prior case.
So, that can take a lot of time. But, it is the best thing you can do to make up for what would be lost back pay. If you have more questions about dismissals from administrative law judges, or just general questions about social security disability feel free to call our office at 1-800-850-7867. You can also visit www.HoglundLaw.com. We also have other videos about different subjects to help you.”