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These hearings are a bit different than meeting with an SSA claims manager, and it’s important to understand how an Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) views disability.
Having a doctor’s note helps, but it certainly does not guarantee approval. How Judges view disability? There are three broad categories that an ALJ will consider when making their decision.
Severity of Disability
The first category considered will most likely be the severity of your disability. They want to know how bad the disability is, and, most importantly, how much the disability affects your ability to work.
How long can you sit, stand or walk? Can you still perform the essential functions of jobs you’ve recently held? To what extent does your disability limit your ability to work around others, keep pace with the work environment and affect your memory.
These are some but not all of the questions that will go through the mind of the ALJ at some point in the hearing.
Another factor judges will consider is how long your disability has lasted or is expected to last. The longer the disability is likely to stay, the better it is for your case. Temporary disabilities can get approved, but permanent disabilities tend to have a higher success rate. According to SSA Regulations, in order for your medical condition to be considered severe, it must have lasted or be expected to last a minimum of 12 months and limit your ability to perform work-related activities.
Judges will also consider if there are any other jobs that you can still perform with your disability. This doesn’t mean the judge will start calling around checking to see if anyone will hire you. The judges will consider your age, work history, education and your limitations to decide if you are able to adjust to other types of jobs that are available in the national economy.
There are other factors used by an ALJ to decide if your truly disabled, but these three will be considered in every case. When you’re preparing for an ALJ hearing, make sure you thoroughly cover these three points.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law