A Social Security disability hearing provides an opportunity for you and your attorney to present evidence that supports a finding of disability in your case. You will have a chance to prove your disability to the administrative law judge (ALJ) and ideally be awarded the benefits you need. Knowing what to expect can help alleviate much of your tension and apprehension about the hearing, and being prepared can improve the outcome of your disability hearing decision.
What to Expect at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Your hearing will be held at the Office of Disability Adjudications and Review (ODAR) and heard by the ALJ. When you arrive at ODAR, an official will search you for safety, check your photo ID and usher you to a waiting room where you’ll be able to talk with your lawyer until your case is called.
When the ALJ calls your case, you will enter the courtroom, which is usually much less formal and smaller than large courtrooms you might see on T.V. The hearing is informal, but there will be a court reporter there, recording the meeting. The judge or your attorney may ask you a series of simple questions, which you should answer truthfully and thoroughly.
After your questioning, the judge may ask questions of the medical and/or vocational experts asked to be there. These experts will provide testimony about your medical condition, functional capacity and ability to work. The experts are usually not there to support your case; rather, they often will say things that undermine your disability or overstate your capacity to work. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine the experts and do so in a way that supports a finding of disability. After the questioning, the ALJ most likely will allow your lawyer to make a final argument for your case.
Tips to Help You through the Disability Hearing
Here are few tips that will help you avoid mistakes during the hearing and set your mind at little more at ease.
- Dress normally in clean, presentable work clothes. Don’t overdress or wear flashy clothing that might hide your disability from the judge.
- Bring any assistive devices you normally use, such as a cane or walker.
- Don’t speak unless you’re asked to. It’s natural to panic or become upset when you hear the medical or vocational expert say things that minimize what you’re going through. Don’t blurt anything out, however. You will have an opportunity to explain your side of the story.
- Keep your answers brief and concise when the ALJ asks you questions. Don’t provide more information that what was requested.
- Tell the truth. Neither exaggerate nor understate your disability. Honesty is always the best policy.
Have questions about your hearing? Call Patton Brown Law
If you have questions or concerns about your hearing or are in need of an attorney for your upcoming disability hearing, you are welcome to call Patton Brown Law in Winston-Salem. Contact us today at 855-860-2150 for a free consultation.