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Disability hearing 6 things you need to know

For many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants the disability hearing is not only the most anticipated step in the disability process, it can also be the most stressful and the most important. If you have a disability hearing scheduled it’s likely you have waited months to have the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hear your case, but you may not know exactly what you should do. Let’s look at some of the most important things to know about an SSDI case.


What do I need to know about my disability hearing?

  1. You will have to appear in court.

Although you will have to appear in court and this could be intimidating for many claimants, your hearing is not an episode of Law and Order. You will not be interrogated and berated by a state’s attorney. There will, however, be a judge, a hearing reporter, your lawyer, and potentially a medical expert and vocational expert present.

  1. It’s okay to be emotional.

If you have been fighting for disability benefits for months or years and you are frustrated and overwhelmed by the situation, it is natural that you may become emotional. In fact, it’s not unusual for some claimants to cry or become upset. Not only is it difficult to articulate your struggles, it could also be embarrassing. If you do become emotional just take a few minutes, relax, and let your lawyer help guide you through the hearing process.

  1. The medical and vocational experts do not work for you.

Although there is not a lawyer for the state who will badger you and ask you questions, the state may have hired a vocational and medical expert to testify. If these experts attend your disability hearing they will generally present evidence that you have the ability to work some type of job within the economy. It is up to your lawyer to refute their testimony.

  1. You will be asked to give testimony.

Even if you have hired a disability lawyer to argue your case at the disability hearing, the judge will ask you a series of questions, including your name, age, date of birth, educational background, work history, job duties, physical and mental limitations, things that may keep you from working, doctors you have seen, medications you take, and side-effects of your medication.

  1. It’s important to tell the truth.

It is very important that the ALJ considers your testimony at the disability hearing credible. Do not exaggerate your conditions. This could hurt your claim. Be honest and give concise answers. Most importantly, understand what it means to be disabled and give answers which specifically address your functional limitations to work.

  1. Do not complain about the SSA or how long the process has taken.

Everyone knows how dysfunctional the SSDI process is. Yes, they know that you have waited months to get benefits. They know that you probably have very little money. They know that you feel you are entitled to benefits. Everyone at the SSA is doing all they can to process claims as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Bottom line:

Understanding the disability hearing process could be critical to winning your case.

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