California residents who file disability claims may find that their initial application and appeals are denied. This could make it necessary to have their cases heard by an administrative law judge. However, with nearly 2 million new disability claims made per year, there can be a significant backlog in cases. This means that an individual will likely need to wait before a hearing can be held.

Although the wait time to see a judge can bring about financial and emotional pain, the good news is that up to two-thirds of applicants win their cases after attending a hearing. Individuals are allowed to represent themselves or enlist the help of an attorney to prepare for a hearing and present their case.

The odds of winning a case can be up to 50 percent higher for those who have representation at this stage of the appeal process. This is because an attorney or other representative understands what information is needed for a judge to rule in an applicant’s favor. An attorney also tends to understand the Social Security guidelines and can spend more time convincing a judge that these standards have been met. Finally, a representative may approach the case from a factual standpoint as opposed to an emotional one, which can improve the odds of winning an appeal.

If an individual is unable to work, it may be possible to apply for and obtain SSD benefits. These benefits are available to those with a sufficient work history who are completely disabled. An attorney might be able to convince a judge that an individual is completely disabled based on medical records and other relevant information. The amount of any benefit obtained will generally be based on the date that the injury occurred.