May 17, 2016

The Indianapolis Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

Most people who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) end up having to go to a hearing if they pursue their claim after the initial denial.  If you live in central Indiana and have a hearing, you will likely end up at the Indianapolis hearings office.

The address of the Indianapolis Office of Disability, Adjudication, and Review (ODAR) office is 151 N. Delaware Street, Room 400, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46204.  The hearing office is in Market Square Center, but most people call it the “Gold Building” due to the gold glass windows on the outside of the building.  There is metered street parking and a parking garage east of the building.   You should plan to bring money to pay for parking; Social Security does not validate parking for you.  Once inside the building, take the elevators to the fourth floor. When exiting the elevators, look to your left and you will see a security officer.

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It is important to remember that the hearing office is a federal facility, so certain rules apply.  The security officer will ask to see valid photo identification, such as a drivers’ license or state ID card.  Make sure your license or ID card is not expired!  If it is, the judge may postpone your hearing until you obtain valid identification.  The security officer will also scan everyone entering the office with a metal detection wand.  It is important that you do not attempt to bring in guns, knives, or other sharp objects that could be used as weapons.  Once you are cleared by security you should check in at the window and have a seat in the waiting area.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) employs Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) to preside over the hearings.  The judges are men and women of various ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.  Their job is to conduct hearings, gather testimony, evaluate medical information, and obtain vocational information to help them determine whether each claimant is disabled under Social Security’s regulations.  Typically, hearings last between 45 minutes and an hour depending on the ALJ and the complexity of the case.

At the conclusion of the hearing, it is unlikely that the ALJ will announce his or her decision.  It typically takes thirty to ninety days for the judge to write a decision, and then the decision is mailed to both the claimant and the claimant’s attorney.  Sometimes an ALJ may make a “bench decision” in which he or she lets the claimant know they have won at the hearing.  In my experience, though, this does not happen often.  If you do not receive a bench decision it does not necessarily mean you have lost your case.  I represent Indiana residents in hundreds of cases every year and often, even if the judge does not make a bench decision, I can give my clients an idea of whether I think they have won their claim.  However, it is important to remember that until you get the actual decision in your hands, the outcome of the case can always change.

Often at the end of the hearing my clients are so overwhelmed by everything that happened at the hearing and relieved that the hearing is finally over, they don’t really have any questions for me as we are leaving the hearing office.  Once they get home and have time to process, though, they think of things they would have liked to ask me.  Clients should not hesitate to call my office if they have questions concerning their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.

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