The Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts disability hearings to determine the severity of the applicant’s disability. If the disability hearing board determines that the applicant is too disabled to work, he or she may be entitled to monthly payments in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you are applying for Social Security Disability Income, it is important to be prepared for your disability hearing. You should present as much evidence as possible as to how your disability affects your life along with all of your medical records.
Are Social Security Administration Disability Hearings Similar to Trials?
If you’ve received notice that you need to attend a disability hearing, you may be anticipating a full-blown criminal or civil trial. Disability hearings are administrative hearings that are quite different from civil or criminal trials. Most administrative law judges do not wear a judge’s robe. Also, the hearings are not open to the public. Many times, the hearings are held in small conference rooms. The following people usually attend hearings:
- The claimant
- The administrative law judge
- A hearing assistant who records or types the proceedings
- In some cases, an expert witness hired by the SSA attends
What Happens During the Hearing?
The administrative law judge will ask you questions after reading a statement of facts about the Social Security Disability Insurance application. The administrative judge might ask questions about the following situations:
- How your medical condition affects your life
- Any medical treatment you have undergone
- Your past employment
- The limitations you face due to your disability
It is wise to consider how your disability affects you before your administrative hearing. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to answer questions on the spot. Writing down specific examples of how your disability affects you will help you articulate your condition later. No piece of information is too unimportant. List out every way your disability limits your everyday life, even if you think it is not that important. Administrative law judges want to understand a complete picture of how your disability affects your life on a day-to-day basis.
Your Attorney can Speak on Your Behalf
While it is not necessary to bring an attorney to your hearing on your behalf, it is beneficial. Skilled disability insurance lawyers understand the administrative hearing process well. Typically, after you give your testimony as to how your disability affects your life, your attorney will be able to speak on your behalf. Your attorney may ask you questions that you have discussed beforehand.
Vocational and Medical Experts
If the Social Security Administration provides an expert witness, the judge may ask the witness questions. Sometimes the SSA authorizes vocational experts to testify. A vocational expert is a job placement professional. Administrative judges ask vocational experts questions about your ability to work. If the administrative judge denies your application for disability insurance benefits, you can file a request for reconsideration and appeal the decision.