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What if one can’t afford to go to an SSDI hearing?

We have previously discussed many facets of the hearing and appeals process for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income As you may remember, if your application is denied by a case worker at the Social Security Administration, and a reconsideration doesn’t work, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. One problem that may crop up, though, is that the ALJs are generally situated in cities that not all applicants will live nearby. After all, Ohio is a pretty big state. So what happens if you can’t afford to travel to your hearing?

Well, as we’ve touched on in a prior post, you can request a teleconference hearing. These are not always feasible, however, and not every ALJ will grant them. One can ask that the ALJ make a decision based upon the record by filing a certain form with that ALJ’s office, but many people, and many judges, feel that it’s important that the applicant be able to state his or her case in the hearing room.

If you have to travel more than 75 miles from your home to attend an SSDI or SSI hearing, you may be able to receive payment from the SSA for the costs associated with the travel. However, there are some fairly specific rules that apply. The request for reimbursement of travel expenses must be made at the time of the hearing, or as soon as you can after it. It needs to be in writing, and you should have itemized the expenses and have supporting receipts. If you have to have the money before the hearing in order to attend it, you need to let the ALJ’s office know as quickly as possible after being notified of the place of the hearing. Also, if you must stay overnight and thus need money for food, lodging or a taxi, you must also request such prior to the hearing. If you receive advance money, you will have to itemize your expenses for the ALJ within 20 days after the hearing, and you’ll have to pay back any amount you were paid over the amount you spent. Finally, in some situations, you may be able to get expenses for your representative and witnesses necessary to your case. As can be seen from the above information, receiving these kinds of expenses may be complicated. People who need help with or have questions about the process may want to consider consulting an Ohio disability attorney, as this post does not contain legal advice.