I missed my disability hearing – what happens next?

I have been practicing Social Security law for over 35 years and I sometimes come across this scenario. A disabled person has scheduled a hearing before the administrative court. The court decides whether or not the person receives disability benefits. The person misses the hearing or is late for the hearing. The judge will normally “dismiss” the person’s case. This could be the end of the road for the applicant unless the applicant had a good reason to miss the hearing. Typically, judges will not dismiss the case until the person is more than 15 minutes late.

THE CASE OF JOHN DOE: In a recent case, Mr John Doe was unable to reach the courtroom due to a snow storm. His case was dismissed. We appealed and the Board of Appeal reversed the judge, finding that the blizzard was “good cause” for his non-appearance.

THE CASE OF JANE DOE: In a more recent case, Ms. Jane Doe went to the wrong building and did not show up until 30 minutes after the scheduled time for the hearing. When Mrs. Jane Doe was fired, she contacted us and we appealed. The Appeals Board, which hears appeals against the judge’s decision, is sending it back to the judge for a hearing on whether she had “good reason” for missing the hearing.

THE CASE OF RICHARD ROE: . Richard had made his case six months in advance. Unfortunately, Richard was in a car accident the day before his hearing. This caused him to be hospitalized at a local hospital. he was released on the day of the hearing, but he was unable to come to the hearing. he did call the hearing office, but they didn’t record his call. His case was dismissed, but when we appealed, the Board of Appeal ruled that his hospitalization was “good reason” for him to miss the hearing.

THE CASE OF JANE ROE: Jane had scheduled a hearing three months before her incarceration. At the time of the hearing, she was in prison and unable to attend the hearing. When she failed to show up, her disability suit was dismissed. Her appeal to the Board of Appeal is pending.

In summary, even if you miss the hearing, that omission is not fatal to your case, as long as you can provide a “good reason” for your non-appearance. In general, it should be a cause beyond your control.