If you were denied disability benefits and then also denied benefits at your reconsideration, your claim will progress on to a disability hearing. Social Security Administration (SSA) hearings are not like regular courtroom hearings. An administrative law judge (ALJ) presides over a disability hearing. These hearings are not open to the public, so anyone accompanying you will be left in the waiting room. These hearings are usually held in small conference rooms or might sometimes be done by video conferencing.
Those present for a disability hearing will be the claimant, his or her attorney or advocate, the ALJ, an assistant who records the proceedings, and there could be an expert witness or two that has been hired by the SSA to respond to questions related to your particular conditions and case. While the process can vary significantly depending on the reason a claim was denied and the medical problems of the claimant, there are some general things that will take place at your Social Security hearing.
What Will Happen At A Social Security Hearing?
Here are the five things that you can expect to happen at your disability hearing.
- You, as the claimant, will be questioned by the judge. These questions revolve around the medical problems, any medical treatment, any past employment, educational background, and how the medical problems impact your life. You need to be ready to discuss any limitations caused by your medical problems and how your daily life is impacted. You need to answer these questions honestly, being sure to not leave anything out.
- Your attorney or advocate can speak on your behalf. This individual can speak on your behalf to argue your case. In some instances, this persona might ask you additional questions to show the judge more in-depth about your condition.
- Any expert witnesses in attendance will be asked about your condition and any work you would be able to do with your medical problems. These individuals provide details about your ability to work and sustain at a particular job or what jobs they feel you are suited to perform despite your medical problems.
- You might be asked additional questions by the ALJ. Usually, the ALJ will ask if you would like to make additional comments.
- You won't receive a decision that day. It can take up to 30 days to be notified of the judge's decision. Sometimes, in extenuating circumstances, the judge can issue a bench decision to let you know if your claim is going to be approved or not.
Here's a little more information on what happens at your hearing.
Why You Should Speak With an Attorney or Advocate
Your attorney or advocate will help you prepare for the hearing and let you know what to expect. They will go over any practice questions with you and familiarize you with the process so you will feel comfortable responding to any of the questions you are asked.
Those who have an advocate or attorney representing them at a Social Security hearing have a 60% chance of being approved for disability benefits. If you have applied for disability benefits and your claim was denied, you should schedule a consultation with a disability advocate or attorney today.