Disability hearing what do I need to know?If you have applied for SSDI disability benefits and been denied you may be able to appeal your denial by filing a reconsideration. If you are denied a second time you can request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. The Social Security Administration will send you notification for your disability hearing 20 to 30 days before your hearing date, but preparation for the hearing should begin months before you receive notice.
Steps before a disability hearing
1. Hire a disability lawyer and submit new medical evidence.
If you have requested a disability hearing the first step is to consider whether or not you need to hire a disability lawyer. Disability lawyers can help you win at every step of the disability process, but they are crucial to winning at the disability hearing (which is generally provides your best chance to win SSDI benefits).
Whether or not you hire a disability lawyer, the second step is to submit new medical information to the Office of Adjudication and Review. Medical records should be no more than 60 to 90 days old. If you are unable to submit the information prior to the hearing it should be brought to the disability hearing and submitted into evidence.
2. Submit a legal disability brief to the court
Next, your disability lawyer should submit a brief to the disability court for the judges review. The brief is a simplified outline and description of your conditions, supporting evidence, and information about how your condition meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments or why your disability keeps you from performing work.
3. Attend the hearing and be ready to testify
At the hearing a vocational and medical expert may be present. Each witness will be asked questions and given an opportunity to present information about the claimants case. If you have hired a disability lawyer they should prep you prior to the disability hearing. Read over your case and be ready to provide personal information, including information about your formal education and any specialized vocational or other training you have completed.
You will also be asked information about your employment, whether or not you are currently working, and whether or not you have tried to work since applying for benefits. Finally, you will be asked information about your physical and mental limitations affecting your ability to care for yourself or perform routine activities and your ability to sit, walk, stand or move. The judge may also ask about your ability to lift, carry, climb, stoop and bend.
4. Be prepared for vocational expert testimony.
One of the most challenging aspects of the disability hearing is offering rebuttal testimony against testimony offered by a vocational expert. A vocational expert often attends a disability hearing to present information about why they think you can work and what jobs are available in the economy which they believe you could perform. Disability lawyers have the expertise to counter the testimony of a vocational expert.