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Social Security disability hearings can be stressful. You have waited so long for a judge to hear your case, and now you don’t know whether you will win or lose your claim for benefits.
The hearing itself is used to identify how disabling your condition is and help to establish if your condition is too disabling to work.
Although most Social Security hearings are similar, there can be slight variations depending on the judge’s preference. The first thing to know is that your disability hearing will be nothing like the trials you might have seen on TV. Disability hearings are held in small conference rooms, and most Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) don’t wear judge’s robes. Social Security hearings aren’t open to the public, so if you bring along a friend or family member, they’ll have to remain in the waiting room. Those present at the hearing will include you, your legal representative (if you have one), the ALJ, a hearing assistant (who will record or type a record of the proceedings), and possibly one or two expert witnesses hired by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
After identifying each person in the room, the judge will read a basic statement of facts regarding your Social Security disability application. Most judges will then directly question the claimant.
These questions generally revolve around your medical condition(s) and treatment, your past employment and, most importantly, the limitations that your disability imposes. Keep in mind that your hearing isn’t “you vs. them” – the judge isn’t trying to prove that you’re not disabled. He or she is simply trying to get all of the necessary facts to make a decision on whether or not you’re entitled to disability benefits. It’s important that you answer the judge’s questions honestly – don’t exaggerate, but don’t leave anything out either. Try to provide specific examples of how your disability impacts your ability to do everyday activities.
Following your testimony, the judge will usually give your representative a chance to speak on your behalf or ask you any additional questions. If your disability attorney has planned to ask you questions, you will know this in advance. If there are expert witnesses present, the judge will then ask them for their opinions.
Medical experts (usually doctors) will testify regarding your disabling conditions, and vocational experts (often job placement professionals) will provide input as to your ability to sustain employment.
At the end of the hearing, the judge may ask you a few more questions, and will then ask you if you would like to say anything else.
Once your disability hearing has been conducted, your claim will remain at your local Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) until the ALJ has made a decision. You will generally receive a written decision within 4 –12 weeks.
One advantage of hiring a qualified Social Security disability attorney is to prepare you as to what you can expect at your Social Security hearing. The hearing process is generally straightforward, but it can be intimidating. Being able to anticipate what will happen and what kinds of questions you might be asked at your disability hearing can be reassuring and increase your chances of winning.
At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we have helped countless clients navigate the complex SSA system. Our attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate. By contacting us, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. There is no fee unless you win. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 877.526.3457. Or if you’d prefer, please fill out this form and we will respond to you shortly.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law