Many Social Security disability cases are denied at the Application and first appeal stages, and so many applicants will be scheduled for a hearing. A hearing is also often the final stage in a Social Security disability claim. If you have a Social Security Disability hearing, it is important to be prepared and know what to expect.
First, your hearing will be before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Prior to your hearing, the ALJ will review your file and will be prepared to discuss your case. If your attorney filed a brief prior to the hearing, the ALJ will review the brief prior to the hearing. It is not uncommon for the ALJ to inquire about a particular medical test or to have other questions specific to your case.
Second, unless you are unable, expect to testify at your hearing. Your testimony will cover topics such as your work history, your symptoms and medical history, and the difficulties you are having with tasks such as household chores. It is important to review your work and medical history prior to your hearing so that you are prepared for your testimony. Both the ALJ and your attorney will ask you questions.
Third, you may bring a witness. While many hearings are held without one, you are allowed to present a witness at your hearing. Witnesses often include a family member or friend, but a witness can also be a medical professional. It is important to know when a witness will be helpful, to prepare the witness, and give notice to the ALJ prior to your hearing. A witness only needs to be involved in the hearing while he or she testifies, and if you prefer, you may choose to temporarily leave the hearing while your witness testifies.
Fourth, there will likely be a Vocational Expert (VE) at your hearing. The VE is there for two primary reasons: (1) to classify your past work and (2) to answer questions posed by the ALJ and your attorney. These questions are called “hypotheticals” and are often a crucial part of the hearing process and the ALJ’s Decision.
Fifth, the ALJ does not typically state his or her decision at the close of the hearing. Instead, you will receive the Judge’s Decision by mail. The Decision usually arrives within about a month from the ALJ Hearing. Whether your claim is approved, partially approved, or denied, you will receive a written decision from the ALJ.
Sixth, and finally, the ALJ will expect your file to contain updated medical records. Any new documents must be submitted at least one week prior to your hearing. Updating your file prior to your hearing will give the ALJ time to carefully review your records and other documentation and to make a fair decision. An attorney can help you navigate this process, and an attorney will help you review your file prior to your ALJ Hearing to ensure that it is updated.
If you or a loved one has an upcoming ALJ Hearing and are not already represented by an attorney, please contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Kelly Correnty, Esq.
WARNING: THIS IS A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF LAW AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. FOR ANY LEGAL QUESTIONS PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE AND SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY. IF YOU ARE SEEKING TO MODIFY A CUSTODY ORDER OR PARENTING TIME, CONTACT US.