Even if they have a good argument that they are legally disabled and thus entitled to Social Security benefits, many residents of Killeen, Texas, or the Fort Hood area will still wind up having their applications denied at the initial stages.
Those who are denied Social Security benefits will then have the option of appealing their case to an administrative law judge who has expertise in Social Security, including questions related to SSD. Incidentally, those whose benefits get cut off also have the option of appealing that decision to an administrative law judge.
While SSD hearings to some extent resemble traditional court appearances, in other ways they are a bit different. For one, they are more informal, meaning the same rules of evidence do not apply. The main goal is for the administrative law judge to gather information, not focus on how that information is obtained. Still, witnesses, including the person applying for benefits, will be sworn in and expected to tell the truth.
The hearings are also what is called non-adversarial, meaning the judge can take a more active role in getting information as opposed to waiting to the two sides to sort matters out. In a way, one should think of the hearing as a formal chance to tell the Social Security Administration why he or she should have benefits.
The downside to this is that the judge may ask doctors and vocational experts to attend the hearing, and these people are not always friendly to the applicant’s case. It is simply one more reason why it is vital that someone going in to a hearing be prepared to present their story to the judge thoroughly and in an organized fashion.