What Happens at a Disability Hearing?

While it may seem like a daunting event, the average Social Security disability hearing will only last between 15 and 60 minutes. Many people become very anxious before their hearing because they imagine it is similar to a court appearance, likely due to the “hearing” terminology. Hearings with Administrative Law Judges are generally fairly informal.

Despite the informal setting, the judge may still be robed, and may still sit elevated from the rest of the room. Sometimes, the hearing will even be held at an event center or conference room at a local hotel or bank, depending on the location and how far away the applicant or claimant lives. With quarantine measures in effect in many places due to COVID, the hearing may even be conducted remotely via video conference.

What Is the Purpose of a Disability Hearing?

The purpose of the hearing will be to determine the exact extent of how disabling your condition is. Most hearings will be quite similar, depending on the judge’s personal preference, there may be some variation. You should be assured, however, that your hearing will not resemble the stressful trials you see on TV.

The Judge Interviews the Applicant

Once the Administrative Law Judge has identified the persons in the room, they will then read a basic statement of facts regarding your SSDI or SSI application. Following that, the applicant or claimant will often be directly questioned.

The questions will center around your medical condition or conditions, treatment, your employment history, and the limitations that your disability has placed on your ability to work. You should remember that this is not an attempt by the judge or anyone else to prove you are not disabled, you are simply stating how your condition has negatively affected your ability to be employed.

The main objective is to collect all of the facts surrounding the claim and to make a determination of whether or not those facts establish eligibility for SSDI or SSI benefits. It is important not to exaggerate your claims, but be sure you do not leave out any important information.

The Judge Will Hear Attorney Remarks

After you give your testimony, the judge will give your attorney the opportunity to speak on your behalf, and they may ask you additional questions. At this time, any expert witnesses, such as medical and vocational experts will provide their input as well.

If Your Hearing Results in a Denial, You Can Request Reconsideration

In the event that your claim is denied, that isn’t the end of the road. Your next step should be filing a Request for Reconsideration. You can do this again after being denied twice, at which point you’ll have the opportunity to have a disability hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Once you meet with the ALJ, your odds of being granted your benefits are much higher at this point. Having an experienced Social Security disability attorney on your side can help you win your case.

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