Slepian Smith, PLLC

What happens at a Social Security Disability hearing?

If your Social Security Disability application is denied, you have the option to ask for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, who will reconsider your application and evidence surrounding your claim.

It is wise to request a hearing after an initial claim and reconsideration are denied because a large percentage of claims are initially denied, but then approved after a hearing. In fact, statistically speaking, a disability claim has the highest chance of approval at a hearing.

Here are four things to know about disability hearings:

1. They are not like regular court hearings. Typically, disability hearings take place in conference rooms and not courtrooms. Unlike most court hearings, they are not open to the public so there are few people in the room. Additionally, an administrative law judge (ALJ) presides over the hearing.

2. The ALJ will ask you questions about your disability. The judge will ask questions about how long you have had your medical problems, the symptoms you experience and how the disability affects your life. This is your opportunity to make your case as to why you need benefits. You will want to focus on the ways your disability impacts your life and your ability to work.

Keep in mind that your attorney can do the talking on your behalf, which is a reason most people prefer to have an attorney represent them.

3. There may be expert witnesses at the hearing. The Social Security Administration may ask one or more expert witnesses to attend the hearing, and they will likely ask you questions about your specific disability. Your attorney may also decide to bring in an expert witness to help prove your case.

The job of the expert witness is to testify as to your ability to work and whether your condition impairs that ability.

4. A decision will usually not be made at the hearing. It can take 3 to 6 months for a decision to be made. In limited situations, a judge will issue a decision from the bench, but this is rare.

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