What happens at the hearing stage of my disability application?

At hearings for Social Security Disability benefits, you will have your opportunity to present your case for SSDI benefits in front of an Administrative Law Judge. An attorney is especially helpful during this phase of applications and appeals because he or she is an expert who knows the ins and outs of the system. This is your only opportunity to be in the presence of a person who makes decisions on the benefits claim.

Your disability hearing is not the initial step in the application process for Social Security Disability benefits, and it won't be necessary if your application was approved during the first stages of filing. The original review of your application is made by a disability examiner who is employed by the Disability Determination agency in your state. The next review stage is done by a second examiner of Social Security Disability benefits. This step is called Reconsideration.

The hearing, then, is the third stage which occurs after your claim has been denied at Reconsideration. Do not be discouraged if your disability claim is denied in the early stages. This is common, and may be due simply to incomplete information provided. An attorney can help you through these additional stages that are often needed in the claims and appeals processes. The Social Security Administration actually turns down many applications during the initial stages, but if you hire a good attorney, you can be awarded your deserved benefits in the appeals process, and possibly at the hearing stage. An attorney can help improve your chances when applying for Social Security Disability Benefits.

The Social Security Disability appeals hearings themselves are usually somewhat informal. They are held in an office, not a courtroom. Spectators are not allowed, and no jury is present. It's a lot less intimidating than a hearing in court, especially if you are represented by an experienced disability attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and help you get disability benefits.