The application you submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) seemed like a conclusive part of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits process.
You provided what you thought was more than enough evidence proving the existence of the medical condition called neuropathy.
Damaged nerves between the spinal column and the rest of your body made if impossible to complete basic job functions.
A slight sensation of numbness and tingling morphed into acute pain that ran into your arms and legs.
However, your initial SSDI claim came back denied by the SSA, which puts you in a perilous financial situation due to mounting medical bills.
If your initial claim came back denied by the SSA, you should know that you have plenty of company.
About 65% percent of all initial SSDI applications come back denied, but almost half of appeals for SSDI benefits receive approval by a judge presiding over an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing.
To start the appeal process, you have to stop by the local Office of Disability Adjudication Review (ODAR) that operates as an organization that is separate from the SSA.
You schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor to discuss how to prepare for the ALJ hearing. If you win an appeal for SSDI benefits, the benefits immediately kick in to offer you financial relief.
Overview of an ALJ Hearing
As the claimant during an appeal for the reception of SSDI benefits, you can expect the judge overseeing the ALJ hearing to ask a number of questions.
Most of the questions involve clarifying the information presented in your SSDI application.
Although an SSDI benefits appeal unfolds in a courtroom, it does not typically carry the same intensity that you find in a criminal trial.
However, the judge wants to know the extent of the symptoms associated with neuropathy, as well as how the disease has negatively affected your job performance.
The key to answering the questions asked by the judge is to remain honest, as well as deliver answers in a clear and concise manner.
The disability lawyer representing you during an ALJ hearing has the right to argue your case in front of the judge.
Although your attorney cannot ask the judge to rescind questions, he or she can ask you additional questions that clarify information and/or debunk the arguments made by the SSA about the lack of evidence presented in your SSDI application.
ALJ hearings rarely take on a contentious tone, which means you should not react harshly to the questions posed by the judge overseeing the case.
How to Present the Most Convincing Case
Make sure you arrive to the ALJ hearing at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the hearing.
The judge has the power to dismiss your case if you arrive late to the hearing.
You also want to arrive early to make any last minute adjustments during an informal conference with your disability attorney.
Be ready to answer questions that pertain to how neuropathy has disrupted your career, as well as how the disease has limited your daily activities.
Avoid presenting your information in an emotional way. The judge wants to hear facts, not witness an overly melodramatic presentation of your case.
You do not have many chances for a second chance to make a favorable first impression.
Make your SSDI benefits appeal count by working with an experienced Social Security disability attorney.