I have been practicing Social Security Disability law for over 35 years and I sometimes run into this scenario. A disabled person has a hearing scheduled in front of an administrative law judge. The judge will decide whether or not the person is awarded disability benefits. The person misses the hearing or shows up for the hearing late. The judge will normally “dismiss” the person’s case. This can be the end of the road for the applicant unless the applicant had a good reason for missing the hearing. Typically, judges will not dismiss the case until the individual is more than 15 minutes late.
THE CASE OF JOHN DOE: In a recent case, Mr. John Doe could not make it to the courtroom because of a snowstorm. His case was dismissed. We appealed and the Appeals Council reversed the judge and found the snow storm was “good cause” for his failure to appear.
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 Ms. Jane Doe got her dismissal she contacted us and we appealed. The Appeals Council which hears appeals of judge’s decided send it back to the judge for a hearing regarding whether she had “good cause” to miss the hearing.
THE CASE OF RICHARD ROE: . Richard had his case set for a hearing six months ahead of time. Unfortunately, Richard had an automobile accident the day before his hearing. This caused him to be hospitalized at a local hospital. he was released the day of the hearing but he was in no shape to come to the hearing. he did call the hearing office but they failed to register his call. His case was dismissed but when we appealed his case the Appeals Council ruled his hospitalization was “good cause” for him to miss the hearing.
THE CASE OF JANE ROE: Jane had a hearing scheduled three months before her incarceration. At the time of the hearing she was in jail and could not attend the hearing. When she failed to show, her disability case was dismissed. Her appeal to the Appeals Council is pending.
In summary, even though you miss the hearing, that omission is not fatal to your case as long as you can establish “good cause” for your failure to appear. Generally, it should be a cause outside your control.