How Long Does the ALJ Have to Set a Hearing Date?

There are no rules or regulations for an ALJ to schedule a social security disability hearing in a set period of time.

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Question

I requested a disability hearing five months ago, but I have't heard anything. How long do judges have to set a hearing date?

Answer

After you request an appeal hearing (the third level of appeal), there really is no time limit on how long does an administrative law judge (ALJ) has to set the hearing date. That is, there are no rules or regulations to compel an ALJ to schedule a hearing within a set period of time.

Typically, an ALJ will not be able to schedule a hearing date until a "workup" on a Social Security file has been completed. In most Social Security hearing offices, this refers to the compilation of something known as an exhibit list, which is like a table of contents for a Social Security disability file. Not every hearing office compiles exhibit lists, but for those offices that do, the majority of time spent waiting for a hearing date is dependent on the completion of the exhibit list.

After the workup, or exhibit list, is complete, it shouldn't take long for an ALJ to schedule a hearing. But how long depends on which part of the country the disability claimant lives in, since some hearings offices are more backlogged than others. It can take as long as a year or more from the hearing request to get a hearing date in some areas. 

Learn more about the average wait time for a disability hearing.

Updated by: , J.D.

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