If your Social Security disability benefit application initially was denied and has progressed to the hearing stage of appeals, you’ll want to ensure you have a good idea of what to expect at the Social Security disability hearing and that you are sufficiently prepared.
The Social Security Administration provides some basic information about hearings with administrative law judges (ALJs), but the hearing process can be confusing and nerve-wracking for many applicants. The more you can learn about the process, the more confident and prepared you’ll be. Below are a few things you’ll want to do prior the hearing.
#1: Consult a Disability Attorney
The way to give yourself the best chance possible of winning your benefits is by having a lawyer who specifically handles disability claim appeals to assist with your case. If you don’t already have a lawyer representing you, now is the time to retain one. Disability attorneys have the knowledge and field experience necessary to help you fully prepare for the hearing and to present your case clearly and effectively to the ALJ.
#2: Collect Up-to-Date Medical Evidence
The ALJ will want to see your most recent medical records. Collect all your most recent doctors’ notes, treatment information, etc., as well as recent medical evaluations completed by physicians. Your lawyer might also advise you to see a new medical expert who can provide testimony about your condition and its impact on your ability to work.
#3: Submit Your Medical Records to the ODAR
As far in advance as possible prior to the hearing, you’ll need to submit your recent medical evidence to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). You have 10 days from the time you’ve requested the hearing to submit new evidence to the agency. They do not want you to submit records you’ve submitted before – only recent ones. You will need to fax records using the Electronic Records Express system, using the fax number and barcode provided on your Acknowledgment of Hearing notice. (There is a specific protocol for submissions. Your attorney can explain it in more detail.)
#4: Review Your File at the ODAR
After you’ve submitted your information electronically, you’ll want to log in to the Electronic Records Express site and review your uploaded documents. You’ll use the tracking information that you were provided when you uploaded your files. Ensure that your files are complete and that there are no duplicates.
For more information about Social Security hearings or legal representation for a disability hearing in Winston-Salem or the surrounding areas, you can obtain a free consultation with a Patton Brown Law disability attorney by calling 855-860-2150 or by contacting us online.