What to Expect When Appearing at a Social Security Disability Hearing
If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits and did not get a claims examiner to reconsider your application, the next step is to appear before an administrative law judge (ALJ) for a disability hearing. A disability attorney can argue your case before a judge and prepare you for questions you may be asked. Knowing what to expect may improve your chances of being approved for benefits.
Our experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys have important information to share with you about the hearing process. If we represent you, we can guide you through this process and advocate for your best interests. We are available to talk with you 24/7. Schedule your free consultation today.
Where Disability Hearings Are Held
Disability hearings are not open to the public. They are often held in small conference rooms. The SSA has over 100 hearing offices where these hearings are held. Your hearing will generally be held within 75 miles of your residence. Alternatively, you may request a video hearing if you are unable to travel.
Compared to other types of legal proceedings, disability hearings are not as formal. A typical disability hearing lasts between fifteen minutes and two hours.
How to Represent Yourself at a Disability Hearing
Your attorney will work with you on representing yourself at a disability hearing. He or she can prepare you for the questions you will likely encounter and give you tips on responding to them. The most important thing is to be honest. You do not want to exaggerate your disability or minimize it. Speak clearly about how your disability affects your daily life and your ability to work.
Attendees at the Hearing
There will be several attendees at a disability hearing, including:
- The ALJ – He or she will hear your testimony and examine the evidence to ultimately decide whether to approve or deny your claim.
- Hearing assistant – This person will record or type a record of the testimony.
- Your legal representative – You have the right to hire an attorney to represent your interests during the hearing.
- Expert witness – The Social Security Administration (SSA) may hire a vocational expert or other expert witness who will testify at the hearing.
- Other witnesses – You may have witnesses of your own, such as your spouse, other family members, friends or colleagues.
Testimony Provided Under Oath
You and all other witnesses who testify will be required to provide testimony under oath. You will be sworn in before you begin to answer questions.
The ALJ will ask you a variety of questions about your personal life, your disability, your work history and other aspects of your claim. You will need to be prepared to answer questions regarding:
- Your full legal name
- Your Social Security number
- Your age
- Your date of birth
- Your height and weight
- Your marital status
Job History and Current Employment
- Whether you are currently working
- Your work history
- The job duties at each job you worked
- The reasons why you cannot work
- How your disability impacted your last job
- The dates of your employment and reason for leaving
Disability and Limitation Issues
- The onset date of your disability
- A description of your disabling condition
- Your treatment history
- The maximum weight you can lift and carry
- The amount of time you can sit, walk or stand before needing a break
- Whether you can stoop, bend, twist and climb
- Whether you have difficulty concentrating on tasks
Understanding Your Attorney’s Role
Your attorney’s main objective is to get your claim approved for disability benefits. He or she will develop a theory of disability, which is an argument presented to the ALJ in writing prior to the hearing and in person at the hearing. Your attorney will ensure that the facts if your case are fully realized, such as questioning n other witnesses that you have brought and cross-examining the SSA’s witnesses so that the ALJ can make an informed decision.
Contact Us Today for More Information
Attending a disability hearing can be an intimidating and complex step in the appeals process, which is why we recommend that you have legal representation. The disability lawyers at Dayes Lay Firm have years of experience representing claimants at disability hearings and helping them receive the benefits they are eligible for. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.