The Social Security Disability appeals process begins with a reconsideration, which is a complete review of your claim by examiners who were not involved with initial decision. If that fails, the next step is a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.
Hearings are not open to the public, and the judge may appear in person or via video conference. Most take place in an office or small meeting room, and disability hearings usually last no longer than an hour.
As this level of Social Security Disability appeal is a legal proceeding, consulting with experienced advocate is a smart way to prepare. After all, what happens at the hearing will depend upon the complexity of your claim. But for a general idea of what to expect, read on.
The Judge Will Ask Questions
After introducing your case and explaining the issues involved, the judge will ask you about your medical condition, how it limits your ability to work and how your health impacts your life. You may also be asked to clarify your past employment responsibilities and your educational background.
Provide honest, thorough answers – and keep in mind, the judge is simply trying to get all of the relevant facts, not trying to prove you have no disability.
The Judge May Question Witnesses
The Social Security Administration may ask a neutral expert witness, such as a medical professional or vocational expert, to attend your disability hearing.
If any expert witnesses are present at your hearing, the judge may ask them for details regarding your work abilities and any jobs you may be able to perform, despite your medical issues.
Your Representative May Speak on Your Behalf
Following the judge’s questioning, your legal representative will typically have a chance to ask questions of you and any expert witnesses present.
If your representative plans to ask you any questions during the disability hearing, you should know ahead of time. You will go over everything together before the proceeding, as that allows you to prepare clear, specific answers that effectively support your claim. You may, however, be asked additional questions by the judge.
You Will Not Receive a Decision at the Disability Hearing
Occasionally, a judge may issue a bench decision at a hearing, telling the claimant whether they will be approving or denying the Social Security Disability appeal. But this does not happen very often. In most cases, the decision comes by mail several weeks later.
If your disability hearing does not result in an approval for benefits, all is not lost. You can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can decide your case or return it to an administrative law judge for a second hearing.
Do you have questions about fighting a disability denial? Turn to highly experienced advocates at Mountain West Disability. Based in northern Utah, we work with clients across the country – and we only collect a fee the approval of your claim.
For more information about the Social Security Disability appeals process and expert help preparing for your disability hearing, contact us today.