It’s sad but true: disability bias exists. And it can affect your Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) hearing.
Bias and Social Security Disability Hearings.
According to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) regulations, all disability applicants are entitled to a full and fair hearing. While most Administrative Law Judges (“ALJ”) that decide disability case for the SSA are fair-minded, that’s not always the case.
Many times because they have a heavy caseload and very little time, ALJs can be perceived as being “curt”. And sometimes, they are just downright rude. While this is not necessarily a sign of disability bias, you should be aware of what behavior from an ALJ could be a sign that the ALJ was truly biased and you did not get a fair hearing.
For example, if the ALJ’s aggressive questioning of you crossed a line into outright rudeness or disrespect, or the ALJ made comments to you during the hearing that clearly demonstrated he or she was biased against you, this is very likely improper behavior.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s not always easy to tell whether the ALJ is truly biased, or just in a bad mood. Protecting your interests at hearing and being able to know the difference (and what to do about it if it is bias) is just one of the reasons that we believe no one should attempt to go to hearing without experienced social security disability counsel.
Possible Signs of Bias.
Keeping in mind our caution above, there are some things that can, if severe enough, indicate that you did not receive a fair hearing.
For example, if the ALJ:
- Refuses to consider evidence submitted before the hearing or within the 5-day rule;
- Refuses to allow you (the applicant) to testify or to cross-examine any witnesses;
- Is clearly hostile or offensive to you (the applicant); or
- Refuses to recuse himself/herself despite having a clear conflict of interest.
While it is rare that true bias or hostility occurs at disability hearings, it is something that you need to be aware of and prepared for.
Experienced Disability Attorneys Who Make a Difference.
If you believe you were not given a fair hearing, or if you have been denied benefits, contact us. We have offices in Poplar Bluff, Rolla, St. Louis, St. Joseph, West Plains and other cities in Missouri, and in Overland Park, Salina, Topeka, and Wichita Kansas; as well as in Illinois, and Oklahoma. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at 855-727-8625 or send us an e-mail today to set up your free appointment.