If your application for Social Security Disability benefits was initially denied, a disability hearing is your first step in the appeals process. It is your next opportunity to have the merit of your case evaluated and to explain why you need disability benefits. While you may feel nervous about it, this hearing gives you another chance to provide evidence of your eligibility, so it is important that you understand what to expect and how to prepare.
At Dayes Law Firm, we have extensive experience handling these types of cases. We are prepared to guide you throughout the legal process to help you obtain the benefits that you need. You can schedule a free initial consultation, with no obligation to hire our services, to learn more about how we may be able to help you with your claim.
What to Expect at Your Hearing
In Arizona, Social Security Disability(SSD) cases are heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). His or her job is to decide, based on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of a disability, whether you may qualify for SSD benefits. This is not a trial, so there are no prosecutors present. However, you may be asked questions after giving your testimony if the judge and others at the hearing feel they need clarification, or if there seems to be a contradiction of any facts in your statements. Having an attorney on your side can help you by properly preparing you for this meeting in advance.
In addition to the ALJ, there may also be other medical or vocational experts in attendance at your hearing. These additional participants can be helpful in case the ALJ needs clarification on any subject matter that is beyond his or her knowledge or expertise.
How to Prepare for Your SSD Hearing
Often, those applying for SSD benefits may have to wait weeks or even months before their hearing is scheduled. While waiting, your chances of successfully arguing your case for benefits may be greatly improved by preparing for this hearing with one of the Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers at our firm.
To prepare for your hearing, you will need to:
- Obtain helpful fact-based evidence, such as recent copies of your medical records.
- Information about your work history, including other jobs you have held in the last 15 years.
- Review the facts about your case so you can present your argument clearly and answer questions thoroughly, but without rambling about details that are not important or could inadvertently hurt your case.
- Be prepared to describe the tasks required to do your job and what specific physical or medical issues make it difficult or impossible for you to continue doing those tasks.
- Obtain supportive statements from your treating physicians, if they are willing, that describe the job duties you are no longer able to do and any other ways that your physical or medical condition prevents you from working.
- Bring letters of support from neutral witnesses, which could include former co-workers or supervisors.
- When giving your testimony, it is important that you neither exaggerate your injuries nor play them down. Only you can accurately describe the pain you are feeling.
Show This Hearing Matters to You
It may surprise you to learn that many claimants fail to show up for their SSD hearing or show up late, neither of which will help you to obtain the benefits you need. Show that you are serious about presenting your need for benefits by cooperating and showing respect for the process.
- Showing up for your hearing on time, or better still, be early
- Looking the part by showering and dressing appropriately – no expensive clothing required, just be neat and well-groomed. Avoid things like cut-off jeans, t-shirts, patched up jeans or dirty clothes.
- Listen politely when the ALJ or anyone else is talking
- Speak with respect, do not get defensive or be argumentative during your hearing
Seek Legal Representation to Help You Argue Your Case
Going into a Social Security Disability hearing unprepared can be setting you up for failure. Hiring a knowledgeable attorney to represent you may improve your chances for success by preparing you in advance for some of the questions you may be asked. Additionally, your attorney can help you to gather the documentation you need to support your claim.
At Dayes Law Firm, we handle these types of cases every day, and we know how to ensure you are well-prepared for your hearing with the ALJ.
You can learn whether you may have a valid case by scheduling your free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers. It costs you nothing to meet with us, and there is no obligation to hire our services. If we take your case, there are zero upfront costs or fees to pay. We are not paid unless we first obtain benefits on your behalf.
Contact our firm today at: 1-800-503-2000 to get started.