You are here

Tips for Winning Your Social Security Disability Hearing

Some people wait more than a year to receive their day in court and to be scheduled for a Social Security Disability hearing. While two-thirds of appeals are won at the hearing stage of the disability claim process, you need to make sure you do everything you can to help turn the tables in your favor. If you are going through the disability appeals process and want to ensure the best chances of winning your appeal, make sure that you take the following advice into consideration when you arrive at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

Hire a Qualified Disability Lawyer or Advocate

First and foremost, make sure you have a qualified disability lawyer representing you at the hearing stage of your appeal. While the SSA does allow you to represent yourself, it's not in your best interest to do so. Statistics show that applicants who have legal representation at a disability hearing are more likely to be awarded benefits than those who do not. Your lawyer can help prepare you for your hearing and will ensure that your case is presented properly before the Administrative Law Judge.

Do Whatever It Takes to Get There

You need to do everything within your power to show up for your disability hearing, and make sure you show up on time. While you can, in some cases, postpone your disability hearing if you have a very good reason, you should do everything you can to make it to your hearing on the scheduled day. If you don't show up at all and do not have a good reason for your failure to appear, you may lose your chance of reversing the SSA's decision to deny your disability benefits.

Understand That Appearances Matter

You don't have to show up to your disability hearing attired in the finest Gucci suit, but you do have to appear clean and well-groomed. If you show up in torn jeans and a dirty old t-shirt, the Administrative Law Judge isn't going to appreciate it and may think it shows a lack of respect for the court that is hearing your case.

In addition to your physical appearance, you will need to show proper respect to the ALJ who is reviewing your appeal. When addressing the judge, do so civilly. There is never any reason to become verbally abusive or rude when speaking at your hearing and doing so may result in a denial of your appeal.

Be Familiar with Your Case and Your Medical Records

When working with a disability attorney, many applicants make the mistake of assuming that they do not need to stay abreast of the information included in their disability claim or fail to review the records that have been provided to the SSA. Remember, your lawyer is there to represent the legal aspects of your claim. You are the one who knows the most about your condition and how it pertains to your inability to work. You need to know what medical evidence is being provided to the Administrative Law Judge who will be hearing your case so that you can make sure nothing is accidentally left out of your disability application file.

Keep in Contact with Your Lawyer

Chances are that your attorney is handling quite a few Social Security Disability cases. Make sure yours does not fall through the cracks. Stay in contact with your attorney and make sure that he or she has everything needed to represent you properly at your hearing. The last thing you want to do is show up at your hearing, only to find out that you have not provided your attorney with crucial information or documentation that may be necessary to prove your disability claim.

Do Not Minimize the Effects of Your Disability

Pride has no place in the courtroom, and especially not during your disability hearing. While you should never over-exaggerate your disability, you should not downplay it either. Be very specific about how your disability prevents you from performing work-related activities. The people in the courtroom are not there to judge you. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not you can work due to the disability from which you are suffering. If you try to downplay the severity of your condition, you may actually cause yourself to lose your disability case. A vocational expert may also provide testify to offer insight regarding your transferability of skills.

Remember, it is not uncommon for an applicant to wait as long as two years to receive their day in court. Your chances of being awarded disability benefits are highest during the hearing stage of the appeal process. Make sure you follow the above advice in order to increase your chances of a favorable hearing outcome.


just had the craziest experience at a hearing. I went in without an attorney because my MD backed out 5 days before he was to meet with my attorney. I did have my medical records and letters from 2 alternative medicine Drs ( not MDs) backing me 100%. Plus SS had their own Dr at the hearing who 100% backed my statement and claims to the judge, saying he believed everything I said. The judge ( who was supposed to be one of the better judges)started going through my tax returns ( i'm self employed)questioning the amount earned from 3 different years. I had a witness, who the judge wouldn't admit into the hearing room saying "that wasn't necessary". Bottom line, i have two submit 2 more earlier years of tax returns and she will then make a decision. I thought the decision was supposed to made on my medical records and ability to work

Husband has had Parkinson's for 10 years. He is only 48. He has been on disability with a private insurance policy we had. Thank God! We were denied Social Security by the Judge that asked why we weren't taking vacations with the income we were getting from our Disabililty Insurance. He didn't ask about the 30,000 we paid in medical expenses last year!

self-employment is work that will be evaluated under SS criteria to determine if you performed substial gainful activity. you cannot receive disability benefits when you're working.

I applied for disability in 08/2008, I've been through the appeals process and had to wait until 08/2010 to see a judge. In November of 2008 my decision was unfavorable, I had legal representation who I could not get a hold of until 04/2011. I filed an appeal from ALJ in December 2010, and have yet to hear from the appeals council. I talked with attorney today 04/07/2011 and he advised me to re-apply! 2and a half years and now he wants me to start over because my condition has worsened? What do they expect after 2 years. How much more suffering must I endure? Because I don't have good insurance I haven't been able to received any proper care from doctors and am now over $14,000.00 in debt to local hospitals. How do I get help!!!?

I filed in 2008 and I got word in January 2011 that I was denied. Now they have taken my license and my illness has become worse. No insurance and different docots dont help but what do they expect. I need epilepsy meds now and need money to buy the meds. Now I have to live with family and I cant drive. I am in pain all the time. I have bad headaches and I am over $30,000 in debt. to the doctors and specialists and hospitals. I have to start to appeal process over again?!! You have to be kidding.!!! I did find a great atty out of MINN. This time I plan on getting it.

i was forced to take social security after 48 months on disability. now i can't get medicare to do anything and i can't even get medicaid to chage their records to show i have medicare and medicaid so i don't know where to find a doctor to see me. i was told by my oncologist ineeded to have an eye exam by an opthamologist so i went today and i had to pay because no one will claim me not medicare or medicaid but medicare gladly has taken my premiums since october but i can't get a medicare card so what doctors can i even see? why cant i still stay on medicaid where my needs were met and i knew whichdoctors i could go to. now when i mention the word medicare no doctor will touch me as medicare wont even verify i have part a &b and medicaid says i have private insurance which is not true. what a mess. i have called medicaid and they blame it on medicare. just got off the phone with medicare and they can't answer any of m questions. if i call social security they tell me to call medicare and medicaid. this system sucks and the patints suffer undo stress and in this case it is a no win situation. i was fine on medicaid. reimbuse my payments since october. $125.00 month, and leave me on medicaid. i know where i can go. who i can see. and there is never an argument over my bill. my bills are paid for.

I'm autism my benefits stopped and told me you're not getting BENFITS anymore I was so mad I did win the case from 2012 judge found ssa failed so they started revenage my case after judge retired I'm so mad I going live on street hate ssa not show respect to autism person I gave my autism condition they don't care about my autism I'm tired of ssa failed again!!!!!!! I have to fight back again I always obey judge law as long my respect I will lawsuit on ssa as soon

Hi Michael,
I am sorry to hear about this. It sounds very strange--I would definitely file an appeal or speak with an attorney or disability advocate who can help you with your case.