This is a domain of special cases known as administrative hearings. An administrative hearing allows both sides to tell their side of the story involving a dispute at a government level organization. They are handled by administrative law judges.
Administrative Law Judge Definition
An administrative law judge (ALJ) is both a judge and trier of facts in administrative law hearings. The ALJ presides over trials, sorts out disputes, can take testimony, pass judgment on questions of evidence, ascertain factual and legal information, all without a jury being present. They may also administer oaths. They are appointed as per the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946. As per the act, attorneys must successfully clear a 4-hour exam before being interviewed by a panel of representatives of the American Bar Association, the Office of Personnel Management, and a currently serving federal administrative law judge.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
An administrative law judge may grant a hearing to any parties or individuals who may feel that they are being unfairly treated by any government agency. For instance, let’s say that you get a notice from Social Services that says you are ineligible for certain benefits. If you think the decision is not correct, you may exercise your right to an administrative law judge hearing. The process for the hearing is outlined below:
After you receive the final judgment on your social security case, you may request a reconsideration if you do not agree with it. A reconsideration is reviewed by another person who did not pass the earlier judgment. The person is going to go over the facts of the case again before they pass judgment.
- Request For Administrative Law Judge Hearing:
If you are unhappy with the decision of the reconsideration, you may request an ALJ hearing. The request has to be made within a certain number of days (usually 60 days) of the original decision for it to be concerned by the ALJ. Another eligibility criteria for the hearing is the value of claims that you are requesting the hearing for. For instance, The Office Of Medicare Hearings And Appeals (OMHA) has set the minimum threshold for claims at $180 for the calendar year 2021. Appeals for claims less than the threshold are not entertained. You may request the hearing online by downloading a form, write the concerned authorities a letter, or ask for their assistance. All applications have to be in writing.
- Right To A Representative:
You may choose to represent yourself or have a friend, family member, or attorney represent you in court. Keep in mind that your attorney should be notified in time and not at the last minute to represent you as they may refuse. Some administrative law judge hearings require that you submit in writing if you are being represented at the court.
- When And Where A Hearing Is Held:
The hearing is scheduled as soon as is possible given the flow of applications at the hearing office. If you want an in-person hearing, that takes longer to schedule than a hearing by a video teleconference. Video teleconferencing can also save your traveling costs. The location of the hearing is generally within 75 miles of your location. It can be a little further or nearer to accommodate more cases. You are normally notified almost 2 months prior to your hearing about the time and location of your case. If anything does not work for you, for instance, you are unable to travel due to medical conditions, you must notify the authorities so that they can make alternative arrangements for you.
- Happenings At A Hearing:
All the evidence for your case should be submitted prior to the hearing. If you or your counsel wish to submit new evidence, it must be done so at the earliest possible, and at least 5 days before the case hearing. At the hearing, the administrative law judge will listen to both sides of the dispute and ascertain the authenticity of the evidence. He or she will clearly read out the problems with your case and may request a doctor, nurse, engineer, or any other experienced professional to assist with the facts of the case. There is no jury at the trial. After going through everything in detail, the ALJ will issue the decision or the dismissal order, whichever may stand.
Administrative Law Judge Decision
The administrative law judge makes a decision after reviewing all the evidence and the records submitted. The judge may issue an oral decision but will pass a written judgment on it by reference. The parties can also request a record of the oral decision. If any party is still unhappy with the administrative law judge decision, they may contest it at an Appeals Council. Sometimes the administrative law judge may send the case to the Appeals Council with a recommended decision based on the prevalence of the evidence that supports the decision. A written copy of the recommended decision is sent to both the parties at their last mailing address mentioned in the books.
ALJ Decision Wait Time
The maximum wait time for the administrative law judge decision is 90 days after the request for the hearing is filed. If the case is not wrapped up within 90 days, the acceptable reasons could be one of the following:
- It is being decided whether the plaintiff is disabled or not.
- The plaintiff and their attorney caused delays that are added to the final decision making time. The delays could have been to request extra time to submit evidence, delays in submitting statements, or postponements, etc on your request.
- Any other reason that constitutes a good cause and reason for a delay.
ALJ Hearing Decision Approval Or Denial
If the ALJ did not announce the decision to your case right after your hearing, you will receive the judgment in your mail once the ALJ has come to a decision. The judgment is sometimes referred to as a Notice of Award. If the Notice of Award is not in your favor, you may go for an appeal in the Appeals Council. Otherwise, the decision may be partially or fully favorable for you.
A partially favorable decision is in your favor only up to a limit or a date. For instance, if your hearing was to determine if you should be granted benefits due to your disability, the judge may grant a partially favorable decision. The decision may state that you are getting better and will receive the benefits up to a certain date, after which you are eligible to work. On the other hand, a fully favorable decision will be in your favor entirely, without any limits or conditions.
If the decision is in your favor, you should expect to start receiving your benefits and for the decision effects to go into force after a month of the NOA.
An administrative law judge primarily listens to all disputes that involve government agencies. There is no jury at an ALJ hearing and no cross-examination. An ALJ is the best chance you get to present your case and have any funds approved. The administrative law judge is independent and appointed solely on merit.