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What Questions Will the ALJ Ask During your Disability Hearing?

Many look forward to their Social Security Disability hearing with a mixture of anticipation and dread. After all, you have waited months, or possibly even years, for this date to arrive. You are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and may begin receiving Social Security Disability benefits within a matter of months. The question is, what should you expect at your disability hearing? How can you prepare yourself? Most importantly, what questions will the administrative law judge who is overseeing your hearing ask you during the hearing process?

Walking into a hearing without knowing what type of questions you will be confronted with can be an intimidating process. If you are working with a Social Security Disability attorney, he or she should have gone through the steps to properly prepare you for this hearing, including understanding what to expect and what questions you will be asked. For those who do not have an attorney or have not yet talked to your attorney about these questions, the following information will help.

For the most part, the questions you are asked will fall into four categories including your background information, your work history, your medical condition and your daily activities. The background questions will involve questions about your personal background such as your education and your marital status. The work history questions will involve questions about the type of work you have performed in the past, before your disability prevented you from continuing your employment activity. The medical questions will pertain to your disability itself. Your judge may ask questions about your symptoms, what treatments you have undergone and other medically-relevant information.

The most important questions pertain to your daily activities. It is the answers to these questions that allow the judge to see how your disability interferes with your day-to-day living activities. You want to be completely honest in your answers. Do not overplay the limitations the disability places on you, but do not be prideful either. You must be completely honest if you want the best chance for a successful hearing outcome. These judges hear thousands of cases each year. They can tell if someone isn’t being honest or if they are trying to “play up” the limitations related to their disability.

Your best bet is to talk with your lawyer prior to your Social Security Disability hearing. Your disability attorney will help you understand how you should respond to the questions that will be presented by the administrative law judge. Once you and your attorney have gone over the questions that will be asked you will be ready to properly respond to the judge on the day of your disability hearing, thereby increasing your chances of receiving the disability benefits you need.


Recently I had my hearing over a video conference with the judge and my attorney. Of course I was nervous after the denial, and I had waited many months for my hearing to review my scoliosis/spinal fusion case. Because I had been told many optimistic "full recovery" outlooks for my two anterior, posterior instrumentation surgeries, I did not apply until two years after my surgeries-which were six weeks apart. While my medical complaint and treatment histories were extensive to support my claims, I look "normal" on the outside, so I feared that I would be judged on my appearance. The 45-minute drive to the hearing started my body to stiffen and exhaustion creeping in, but the two-hour wait caused my back to spasm, legs to numb, and tired confusion to set in. My point is, that by the time I was called in to conference with the judge, many of my symptoms were obvious to the judge as I couldn't sit still from the pain and I had to have looked as awful as I felt-and he saw that thankfully. If you truly have a limiting disability, they will see it and weed you out from those who look for a way not to work. I wish everyone who truly suffers, good luck in your case.