Personal Injury Lawyer

When you have been denied social security disability, it is your right to file an appeal. There are several levels to the appeals process with the first being a re-examination. At this time, your case will be re-examined to see if a mistake was made. You could be approved at this level, but many people won’t be. The next step is to schedule a disability hearing. 

What Happens at a Disability Hearing?

A disability hearing will give you the opportunity to present your case before an administrative law judge. The objective will be to see if your medical condition is so disabling that you cannot work. Most hearings are similar, but have slight variations depending on the case and the judge. 

You should understand a disability hearing is nothing like what you see on the TV. It won’t be held in a trial courtroom, and there will not be many people watching what is going on. A disability hearing is typically held in a small conference room. They are private and only include yourself, your disability lawyer or advocate (if you have one), the administrative judge, a hearing assistant (who records the proceedings), and one or two expert witnesses that have been hired by the administration. If you bring a family member or friend, they will be asked to wait outside. 

You Will Be Asked Questions

Once all parties are in the conference room, the judge will review a statement of facts regarding your claim. At this point, you will likely be asked questions by the judge. In general, these questions will be regarding your medical condition, your treatment, past employment, and limitations that prevent you from working. This hearing is not “you” versus “them”. The judge is not trying to prove you are not disabled or don’t deserve benefits. As a disability lawyer will tell you, it is important to be honest, don’t exaggerate anything, but make sure you include any important details. You might want to include examples on how your disability hinders your ability to do different things. 

A Lawyer Can Speak For You

Once you have given your testimony, the judge will usually allow your representative, or disability lawyer, speak for you on your behalf. If your lawyer will be asking any questions, he or she will let you know before the hearing. If any expert witnesses are present, the judge will ask them to present their own opinions. These witnesses may include medical or vocational experts who can testify about your condition and whether you can sustain employment. You may be asked a few more questions, and then given the opportunity to speak. In general, you won’t receive a decision for 3-4 weeks, via mail. On occasion, a judge will make a bench decision. Even if this happens, and you are approved, you must receive it in writing before you will get any benefits. 

What If You Are Denied?

If you are denied benefits after a hearing, you can file a Request for Reconsideration. According to the available statistics, you have the greatest odds of being granted benefits at the hearing stage, or this stage. If you are denied at this point too, the chances of being approved later on are slim. For this reason, it is important to plan for your hearing and come prepared. Call a disability lawyer, like from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, to help protect your rights and interests.