Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Prepare for a Social Security Disability Hearing

For most claimants the most intimidating part of a Social Security disability claim is the hearing before the adminstrative law judge. In this article, I will explain some simple tips to help get you through the hearing process. Probably the most important thing is to make sure your file contains all your medical evidence and opinion evidence from your treating doctors. Opinion evidence can come in the form of RFC's or doctors report. Good opinion evidence will explain your medical conditions and how these conditions limit you in your ability to work. A letter from your Dr. stating that you are totally and permanently disabled with no clarification is basically useless. At the hearing stage, you will have an opportunity review your file. Take this opportunity to make sure all of your medical evidence and opinion evidence is in your file. You will also be able to see what Social Security doctors have said about your condition and your limitations. It also helps to understand what type of questions will be asked at your Social Security disability hearing. To get an idea of the questions that will be asked follow the link to my page on SSDI hearings. You may also want to consider hiring an SSDI lawyer because if you hire an experienced disability lawyer they will have handled many Social Security hearings. This will not only help you understand what to expect, but your lawyer should be skilled in the ability to ask questions and cross examine. They will also be able to present the theory of your case as to why you are disabled. If you choose not to get a lawyer then you should make sure you understand exactly what you have to prove to win your particular claim. Once you understand what you have to prove, you should then go through your file and make notes about the exhibits that help show you are disabled under Social Security rules. One thing to remember, is that Social Security hearings are informal hearings, which means you do not have to worry about rules of evidence. A Social Security disability hearing is fairly straightforward, with the ALJ or your lawyer if you have one asking questions of you. It is also possible there may be a medical expert or vocational expert or both at your hearing. In this situation, I strongly recommend getting an experienced SSDI lawyer since it would be nearly impossible for me to be able to explain how to cross examine these witnesses. One other thing you should know about the hearing is that most of the time you will not get a decision the day you have your hearing. It usually takes a couple of months to get a decision from the hearing office. For more information on SSD or SSI hearings follow link above to my page on the subject.