28 Dec What to expect at your disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge?
Chances are you have waited anywhere from one year (if you are military or dire need) to three years from the date you initially filed your Social Security Disability/SSI claim to the date you are set to appear before the judge. You are anxious, possibly very frustrated. You have waited a long time! You are representing yourself or your current attorney has not what told you to expect!
A Social Security hearing is a “fact-finding” hearing. It is meant to be non-confrontational. The judge has reviewed all your medical records that you and your attorney have submitted. The medical records are the key. The judge has reviewed, in fact, your entire file. The judge knows how much you earned in 2010, whether or not you still garden, and what your doctor thinks about your conditions. You would be surprised what people tell their doctors and what they put down in their Adult Function Reports they submit to the Social Security Administration!
Arrive to your hearing early. This is your benefits that you have waited years to obtain; do not let traffic or unforeseen circumstances get in the way. Bring valid identification and leave your guns, knives, etc. at home. The clerk might have you fill out a couple simple forms and once your hearing starts you will be escorted into a conference room.
The judge will go over legal standards and many issues with your attorney or, if you are not represented, you. After all the preliminary information is covered; whether all the exhibits are correct, if all the pertinent information is in the file, etc., the judge will begin testimony of the claimant, you. If represented, the judge MIGHT turn the beginning questioning over to the attorney but the judge will ALWAYS ask questions of you. Typical, but by NO MEANS exhaustive, questions are “what do you do each day?” “Do you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol?” “Can you lift a gallon of milk?” Etc, ad infinitum.
You need to be PREPARED to answer the questions the judge will ask. You need to be prepped at what the judge is looking for in their line of questioning. Be sure, the judge is not wanting to award you benefits. They are looking for reasons to find you lack credibility. DON’T GIVE THEM ONE!
Marken Law Group, PS, has prepared hundreds and hundreds of Social Security claimants, just like you, prepare for hearing. Our method is based on our experience and what we have encountered on a daily basis in the hearings office. We prepare you so you leave the hearing feeling you knew exactly what was going to happen!