The Social Security Disability appeal hearing is an important part of the appeals processes. During the appeal hearing, applicants who have previously been denied benefits appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to answer questions about their claim. For many applicants, this can be a nerve-wracking experience. In an effort to ease your fears and prepare you for your disability hearing, we will be answering the following question: “How should I act during my appeal hearing?”
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How should I act during my Social Security Disability appeal hearing?
Although a Social Security Disability appeal hearing may seem overwhelming, stressful, or intimidating, you should view your hearing as an opportunity to strengthen your claim. While the ALJ’s decision is based on the information you provide, your behavior can have an effect on his or her final decision. Below, we have compiled some suggestions that will help you maintain an appropriate demeanor throughout your appeal hearing:
- To set a good first impression you should arrive early and be dressed appropriately. Try to avoid revealing, distracting, or informal clothing.
- Be respectful and polite when answering the judge's questions. It is appropriate to show your respect by referring to the judge as "Your Honor" and standing when the judge enters the room.
- Although you may be angry or upset about your initial denial you should refrain from being confrontational or rude towards the judge. Remember that decision you received was not made by your judge and this is his or her first impression of you and your claim.
- Try your best to be professional when the judge is questioning you. This means that you should do your best to remain level headed and not become overly emotional when speaking with the judge. You should give full responses to the judge's questions. Stay on topic an avoid rambling from topic to topic.
- You should understand, that the judge may ask about many different aspects of your life, some of which may be embarrassing. It is helpful to remember that the judge has heard countless cases and is only interested in determining your eligibility for disability benefits. Prepare yourself to answer these types of questions and do you best to set aside your embarrassment.
- In preparation for your hearing, you should do your best to anticipate the judge’s questions. This way, you will be able to develop and practice appropriate answers. If you become nervous you will have these answers to fall back on.
The hearing may seem intimidating but if you understand what to expect, you will be more likely to remain calm and provide the best testimony for your case.