Disability Hearing in 20 days, what should I do?
What do I need to do to win at my disability hearing?
Many disability applicants wait months or years for their disability hearing. If you have a hearing scheduled in a few weeks its time to get educated. This blog will address what you can do right now to give you the best chance possible to win your case.
Steps right before the disability hearing
1. Talk to your disability lawyer
Although it is possible to win an SSDI case without legal representation from a disability lawyer, many claimants realize that a disability lawyer gives them best chance possible to win benefits. If you have hired a lawyer you may want to touch base with them one last time before the disability hearing date and make sure they have submitted all the necessary paperwork and updated medical records to the judge.
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2. Dress appropriately for your disability hearing
Talk to your disability lawyer about what is appropriate dress for your disability hearing. There is no reason to dress up and wear a suit but you also dont want to dress down or wear anything which is inappropriate. The best advice is to be yourself.
3. Understand the disability hearing procedures
Although your disability lawyer will go over the hearing procedures there is so much information online about the hearing process there is no reason you should go into the hearing without understanding the how the administrative law judge will conduct the hearing. Identify who will be at the hearing. You should expect the ALJ, your attorney and a vocational or medical expert, or both to be present. You are also allowed to present witnesses for your case, but if they are friends or family members it is likely the judge will consider their testimony prejudiced in your favor.
4. Be ready to answer questions from the judge
The judge will ask you a series of general questions: name, date of birth and Social Security number, height, weight and living arrangements. He will also ask questions to identify your functional capabilities. The vocational expert may also list jobs they believe you can work based on your age, work history, physical condition and transferable work skills. Your attorney will have a chance to counter these job suggestions with evidence from your medical records.
5. Dont make assumptions about the decision until you get the written decision
Although some judges may make an affirmative bench decision, it is more likely they will close the record and send you a written notification. Unfortunately, due to the back log for decisions this could take up to 6 months. The good news is you will receive back pay.
As you prepare for your disability hearing, as mentioned above, it is good to do some research. Google preparing for a disability hearing and you will find numerous articles online about steps to take prior to your hearing.
What do you NOT want to do? Show up late wearing flip-flops and short shorts, not understand what you need to prove, not have a lawyer and have a bad, confrontational attitude. Do enough of the wrong things and you can easily ruin your chance of getting SSDI benefits.