If your Social Security Disability Claim has advanced to the appeal hearing level, you are likely doing everything in your power to ensure that your claim is successful. Last week we addressed a question that was sent to us regarding how to behave at a disability hearing. This week we will be answering another question to help prepare you to appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Today’s question was sent to us on Twitter. As always, leave your disability benefit questions in the comment section below so that we can answer them in an upcoming blog post. Today’s question:
Should I bring my doctor to my Social Security Disability appeal hearing?
If you plan to attend an appeal hearing, it is likely that your claim has been denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of the application process. The appeal hearing gives you the chance to strengthen your claim with updated records and—yes—witnesses.
In a disability hearing, you are allowed to bring witnesses (generally no more than 2) to build your claim. If you have been seeing the same doctor for several years, you should consider asking him or her to serve as a one of your witnesses. Here’s why:
- He or she will likely be viewed as a reliable, trustworthy source of information. Your doctor will be able to confirm any facts or records that have previously been submitted as part of the application process.
- A medical professional will come in handy if you are nervous or forget to mention certain aspects of your condition. Your doctor is used to maintaining a professional demeanor while speaking about medical conditions and will be able to provide the judge with better insight into your limitations.
- Rather than sifting through your medical records, the judge will be able to turn to your doctor for information regarding your medical history, symptoms, and limitations. Your doctor will be able to explain how your condition affects your daily life in terms that the judge will understand.
- If you have been seeing your doctor for a long period of time, he or she will not only be able to talk about your medical history but also your personal history. A doctor that you’ve been seeing for a long time will know you—and your condition—much better than a medical examiner brought in by the SSA.
If your doctor cannot serve as a witness during your appeal hearing, you should ask him or her to provide you with a written statement. In this statement, your doctor should explain the day-to-day limitations that you face as a result of your condition.
Although you do not have to bring witnesses to your disability appeal hearing, having a witness may make you more comfortable and can increase your chances of approval. Learn more about making your appeal hearing successful, here.