Am I Required to Attend a Social Security Disability Hearing?
If an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) schedules a hearing, you should attend. A disability hearing is your best shot at getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you fail to attend your scheduled hearing, your request for a hearing may be dismissed. This is why it is important to attend a disability hearing and be prepared for it.
At Dayes Law Firm, we understand how complex applying for disability benefits can be. We are also well-versed in the appeals process and are prepared to help you gather the documentation necessary to bolster your claim if you have been denied. An initial consultation is 100 percent free and confidential.
Reasons to Attend a Social Security Disability Hearing
A disability hearing provides an opportunity for you to present your case before the ALJ. The ALJ will use the hearing to evaluate the merits of your claim and to determine if you meet Social Security’s definition of a disability. He or she will follow the same evaluation steps used by the claims examiner during the initial application process and request for reconsideration, the first level in the appeals process.
The ALJ will ask you several different questions to get to know you. The questions may directly or indirectly deal with your condition. He or she will also assess how credible you sound and if your testimony is consistent with the medical evidence you provided.
For instance, say you suffer from debilitating back pain that prevents you from bending over or lifting items. However, imaging tests fail to show these limitations. Getting your claim approved will be hard.
On the other hand, say you testify that you have respiratory issues that makes it difficult to work. If your medicals records show that you suffer from symptoms due to your emphysema that is consistent with your allegations, your claim could likely be deemed credible.
The key to a successful disability hearing is making sure that your claim is fully developed and a clear theory of disability is presented to the ALJ. This is where having an experienced lawyer can be helpful.
Common Mistakes to Avoid at Your Hearing
It is normal to feel nervous and anxious before a disability hearing. Although you may be new to the entire process, there are certain mistakes that could hurt your chances at getting your claim approved.
Some of the most common mistakes to avoid include:
- Not being truthful – Not being honest about your condition by exaggerating your symptoms at a hearing is a big mistake and the fastest way to lose credibility. Minimizing or downplaying your symptoms is not advised either. The ALJ needs to get a clear understanding of your pain and how your condition affects your work, personal life and relationships with loved ones.
- Not being prepared – Being prepared to attend a hearing can be the difference between getting approved or denied for disability benefits. It is important to be knowledgeable about your medical records and the specific medical opinions from your treating doctors.
- Saying things that could hurt you – Although you should be honest at a hearing, it does not mean offering too much information that might cause more harm than good. Avoid making statements about a family member receiving disability benefits or having a history of drugs or alcohol abuse unless asked by the ALJ. Saying you failed to follow the doctor’s orders is bad too.
How Legal Representation Can Help You
Whether you are applying for disability benefits or appealing a denied claim, you have a greater chance at getting approved with legal representation. A Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm is here to help. We understand the impact an initial denial can have on an individual and his or her family, especially when these benefits are the applicant’s main source of income.
Gives us a call to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. We are prepared to review your claim at no charge and do not receive payment for our services unless we help you obtain disability benefits.
Contact Dayes Law Firm Anytime 24/7. 1-800-503-2000.