If you applied for disability and were denied, then you may have to attend a Social Security disability hearing. Disability hearings help the SSA determine how disabling your condition is, and whether your condition is severe enough that it prevents you from working.
Knowing what to expect at a disability hearing can help you to prepare, as well as avoid common mistakes. A Charlotte disability attorney can guide you through the process and increase your chances of obtaining a successful outcome. Contact Attorney Gary Brown at Disability Attorney Services LLC today to learn more.
Who Will Attend the Social Security Disability Hearing?
Very few people will attend your hearing. You and your attorney will be there. You may have a witness with you in some situations. Experts may be present, or may submit their opinions via documents.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) will preside over the hearing. An ALJ is similar to a judge in a normal court case, and they will eventually make a decision about your case. The ALJ may also have an assistant, and someone will be present to record the hearing.
The hearing is not open to the public, so no one else should be at your hearing.
Where Will the Hearing Take Place?
Most disability hearings are held in a conference room at an SSA hearing office. However, a hearing may also take place via video conferencing. If you are unable to attend your disability hearing for any reason, you should notify your attorney as soon as possible.
What Will Happen at the Social Security Disability Hearing?
The hearing process can differ depending on the case. However, the process is similar for all claimants:
- Your disability attorney can speak for you. Although you likely have to attend the hearing, your attorney can speak on your behalf.
- The ALJ will ask you questions. The judge’s goal is to determine whether you are disabled. They may have questions to clarify information you’ve submitted in your application.
- Your attorney will ask you questions. As part of the disability hearing process, your attorney will submit evidence of your disability. They may also ask you questions to as to provide the ALJ with more information about your condition.
- Expert witnesses will be questioned. If you or the SSA have experts present, they will be asked questions by the ALJ and your disability attorney.
- You will not receive a decision that day. It may take up to 30 days to receive a decision for the ALJ regarding your appeal.
What Questions Will the ALJ Ask You?
You will likely have to provide testimony at the hearing. This information will be used to verify or clarify the information you’ve submitted in your disability application or throughout the appeals process.
The ALJ may ask you questions about your activities of daily living, or how you care for yourself and others. They may also ask you about your previous jobs and ability to complete work duties. You should be honest with the ALJ about everything and provide as much information as possible.
Your disability attorney may ask you questions to highlight some information you’ve already submitted to the SSA. For example, your lawyer may question you about how well you’ve worked in the past and why you quit working. Your attorney should prepare you for these questions prior to the hearing.
Experts May Attend the Hearing
Both you and the SSA may have experts present at the hearing, including medical experts as well as vocational experts. Medical experts will speak about your health conditions and what is causing you to be disabled. Vocational experts are job placement professionals who will discuss your ability to work full time in sustained employment.
Your attorney will have an opportunity to question the experts who are present in your hearing. They may ask questions about the experts’ background and what qualifies them to testify. They may also question the experts about your conditions and abilities.
How a Disability Attorney Can Help
Although you can submit an application for SSD on your own, the appeals process is more complex. It involves administrative processes, strict deadlines, and legal arguments. It’s best to work with a disability lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you obtain the best outcome possible.
Preparing for a Social Security disability hearing can be stressful. You need to understand what should be presented to the ALJ and anticipate what they may ask. An attorney who has extensive experience with disability hearings can help you prepare for the hearing and guide you through the process.
Many disability applications are denied initially and upon appeal. Even after a hearing, the SSA denies many appeals. However, claimants who have a disability attorney or advocate representing them at the Social Security disability hearing have a 60 percent chance of receiving benefits with an approval by the ALJ after the hearing.
The sooner you contact a disability attorney, the better. It can take months to properly prepare for a disability hearing. You should speak with a lawyer who can develop you develop a strong case.
What Happens If the SSA Denies My Appeal After the Hearing?
After your hearing, you will receive a letter from SSA along with a copy of the ALJ’s decision in your case. If your appeal is denied after the hearing, don’t give up. You can request a review by an Appeals Council.
The Appeals Council may or may not review your case. If they refuse to review your case or deny your appeal, then you can appeal to a federal court. Either way, it’s best to work with a disability attorney throughout this process.
Contact a Disability Attorney in Charlotte, NC for Help
If you are facing a Social Security disability hearing, you need the help of an experienced lawyer. Contact Attorney Gary Brown at Disability Attorney Services LLC today.