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The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is responsible for holding hearings and issuing decisions as part of the Social Security Administration's process for determining whether or not a person may receive benefits. ODAR has over 160 hearing offices located in most major cities across the nation. Each year at ODAR, more than 1,600 ALJs render over 700,000 decisions at the hearing level. These hearings are held to resolve appealed determinations involving retirement benefits, survivors benefits, disability benefits, and supplemental security income benefits.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) is a judge who presides over a hearing to resolve a dispute between a government agency and someone affected by a decision of that agency. This site focuses on the administrative law judges who preside over hearings for the Social Security Administration (SSA). These judges work for a branch of the SSA called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).
If you disagree with the hearing decision, you may ask for a review by Social Security's Appeals Council. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but it may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision was correct. if the Appeals Council does decide to review your case, it will either decide your case, or return it to an ALJ for review. If your case is denied by the Appeals Council, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
When you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the SSA will review your case and send you a letter explaining their decision. If you are denied benefits, you can ask for a reconsideration appeal, which means the SSA will take another look at your case. If your reconsideration appeal is also denied, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge. This means that before a case ever reaches an ALJ at ODAR, it has already been denied twice by the SSA. The ALJ has no part in the original decision or the reconsideration appeal that was made by the SSA. Your disability hearing will be held at the ODAR office nearest to your home (usually within 75 miles) and you will be expected to attend in person. You also have the option of bringing a representative (a disability attorney) with you to your hearing. After your hearing, the judge will make a decision based on all the information in your case and the SSA will send you a letter with a copy of the judge's decision.