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SSA disability Hearing - How do I Prepare?

Many claimants have a Social Security Administration hearing scheduled and they have done very little to prepare. We frequently get questions about what should be done to prepare for a hearing.

When will I be notified I have a disability hearing?

If you have been denied at the reconsideration level you have 60 days from the date of the denial letter to request your disability hearing. The Social Security Administration is supposed to send you a notice that your hearing has been scheduled 20 days prior to the actual hearing date. Claimants who cannot travel to their hearing may request to have the hearing held via video conferencing.

Hopefully, prior to receiving the hearing notice you have already contacted a disability lawyer and you have had them review your medical records. The disability lawyer should also be ready to outline your argument for why you are disabled and need disability benefits, but there are other steps you can take to ensure that you will have the best possible chance to win SSDI or SSI benefits at your administrative hearing.

  1. Make sure the administrative law judge has up to date medical records.

The Social Security Administration is responsible for gathering your medical records, but many claimants have waited months or even years to get a SSDI or SSI disability hearing. If your condition has deteriorated since you filed your initial SSI or SSDI application level you need to speak with your disability lawyer and make sure the administrative law judge has your most recent medical information. Otherwise, the judge may be making their decision based on information which does not clearly outline your current limitations to work.

  1. Make sure you are prepared for the administrative hearing.

The most important thing to do at the SSA disability administrative hearing is to tell the truth. This is your opportunity to tell your story to the administrative law judge. The disability hearing differs from a court trial. You are not on trial and there will not be a defense attorney questioning you. The judge is simply trying to find out the facts about your SSI or SSDI disability case.

All testimony will be recorded. Your statements are given under oath and it is imperative that you tell the truth and do not over exaggerate your medical condition.

Your SSI disability lawyer should also prepare you to answer questions about your past and current work and your current medical conditions. There also may be a medical expert and job expert there to provide information about your health conditions and the jobs that they believe you would be capable to perform given your current level of health.

Your disability lawyer will also have the right to cross-examine the witnesses and to ask you questions.

What if you do not hire a disability lawyer?

Many claimants will attend a SSDI or SSI administrative hearing without a disability lawyer. This is fine and many claimants will win benefits without legal support, but a disability lawyer can substantially increase your chances of winning SSI or SSDI benefits at this level.

Disability lawyers argue cases everyday and can provide solid evidence that you are disabled and unable to work or retrain for new work. They also have experience reviewing medical records and can often get additional information from your doctors which clearly outlines your functional limitations to work. The best disability lawyers will have this information sent to the administrative law judge before the hearing.
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