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Is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge always required?

No. Your application for SSD or SSI benefits is first reviewed at what is called the local level. Depending on the nature and severity of your medical condition and your level of disability, you may be granted disability benefits at this level; however, if you are turned down, you have the option to appeal and receive a hearing. Many applications, which are denied at the local level, are later granted after a hearing is held. Legal representation at the local level is not necessary; however, for an appeal and a hearing, the involvement of a lawyer is advisable.

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