If your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied, chances are that you will want to move forward with the appeals process. After all, submitting an initial claim all over again is just going to put you back at square one. This means that you will probably find yourself in front of an Administrative Law Judge before the Social Security Disability approval process is over. Fortunately, many claims are won at this stage of the Social Security disability appeal process. On the other hand, there are some serious mistakes you need to avoid if you want to have any hope of winning your Social Security Disability claim. Before you stand before the Administrative Law Judge, who will be deciding your Social Security Disability case, keep the following advice in mind.
Mistake #1: Representing Yourself in Your Disability Case
You don't need a lawyer to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, but if your Social Security Disability claim reaches the hearing level and you need to appear before an Administrative Law Judge, you're going to want an attorney there to represent you.
You can tell the judge until you are blue in the face that you “feel” you deserve and are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. You can even come in with stacks of medical records proving your disability claim. The fact of the matter is that if you don't know how the law applies to your specific disability case, you might not win your appeal. That's where a Social Security Disability attorney comes into play.
A Social Security Disability attorney will be able to help you with the hearing process and the information and documentation you need to prove your case. He or she can help you prepare for the hearing by letting you know what questions you may be asked, how to respond to those questions, how you should act towards the judge and other helpful advice.
While some people do choose to represent themselves at their Social Security Disability hearing, your chances of winning an appeal at this level are much greater if you have legal representation (i.e. a disability attorney) at the hearing with you.
Mistake #2: Making Light of Your Disability
It isn't easy to show weakness – especially in front of strangers. With that being said, it is important to remember that pride has no place in front of an Administrative Law Judge. When speaking at your Social Security Disability hearing you need to be completely honest about your condition and how debilitating it can be. The judge will need to know how your condition prevents you from being able to work, and that means being brutally honest about how it interferes with your day-to-day life.
Mistake #3: Assuming Witnesses Will Make Your Disability Case
Many people think that bringing witnesses to their Social Security Disability hearing will help their case. While it is true that you can bring witnesses to your hearing, there is no guarantee that those witnesses will have any impact whatsoever on what decision the judge makes in regards to your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. In fact, the judge can decide not to hear any of your witness's testimony at all.
Mistake #4: Being Rude to the Administrative Law Judge
The biggest mistake you can make during a Social Security Disability hearing is to become mouthy and rude with the Administrative Law Judge. For all intents and purposes, this judge holds your future in his or her hands. It is in your best interest to show respect to the person hearing your case. You may become frustrated or irritated during your hearing. If the judge is interrupting you when you are trying to explain your condition, it is okay to be firm and express your need to state your case, but remain polite at all times.
Mistake #5: Showing Up Late to Your Disability Hearing
An Administrative Law Judge may hear dozens of Social Security Disability cases each day. The chances of a judge being understanding or accommodating if you show up late to your hearing are slim to none. Whatever you do, make sure that you show up to your Social Security Disability hearing on time. If you show up late, your hearing may begin without you and your disability claim could be denied. That will put you right back into the appeals process, costing you months or maybe even years worth of benefits.
Remember, your Social Security Disability hearing is your day to make your case in court. Make sure you show up on time, with proper legal representation and with the knowledge needed to make the right impression on the Administrative Law Judge hearing your case. Many Social Security Disability claims are won at this level of the claims process, but you have to keep the above advice in mind if you want yours to be among them.