How to Prepare for a Social Security Disability Hearing

Submitted by Shane on

The Social Security Administration only approves about 30 percent of initial Social Security Disability claims received each year. What happens to the remaining 70 percent? One of three things occurs. Applicants can either forget their claim, giving up their right to Social Security Disability benefits, file a new claim, or, if they can go on to file an appeal to reverse the decision.

If your claim for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied, it is in your best interests to file an appeal. If you simply re-apply hoping that you'll receive a better outcome the second time, you are likely to be disappointed. If your first claim was denied, chances are that your second disability claim will be denied as well. The best way to handle a denied Social Security Disability claim is to appeal the decision within 60 days of your receipt of the letter that was sent notifying you that your claim had been denied.

Once you file an appeal, your Social Security Disability claim will be sent back for review. It is important to remember that the office which reviews your appeal is the same office that denied your initial claim. It is not uncommon for an appeal to be denied at this level. When this happens, you need to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Many of the Social Security Disability applicants who request a hearing will go on to successfully receive Social Security Disability benefits. It is important, however, to prepare properly for this disability hearing if you want the greatest chance of overturning your denied Social Security Disability claim.

Additional Medical Records For Your Social Security Claim

To prepare for your Social Security Disability hearing you will need to review the records that the Social Security office used to determine whether or not you were disabled. Do not assume that the agency will be gathering further records on your behalf. That usually never happens.

Get a copy of your file from the Social Security office and review the medical records contained in that file. If you feel there are important records missing from your Social Security Disability claim, get copies of those records so you can bring them to your hearing. You will also want to continuously add any current evidence to your medical records, so you must get copies of all of your records from current and future doctor's visits to add to the file that you will be creating.

When you receive notice that you will be appearing before an Administrative Law Judge you will want to review the file of medical records that you have created. If any records are missing, you should get copies of them and add them to the file. You will need two copies of this file. One will be sent to the Administrative Law Judge in charge of hearing your case and you will keep the other to bring with you to your hearing. If you have an attorney representing you, he or she should have a copy of these records as well.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Attorney

While most people do not hire an attorney when making an initial claim for Social Security Disability, it may be in your best interests to have an attorney represent you at the hearing. Your attorney will go with you to your hearing and can ensure that your case is handled properly, citing Social Security Disability laws and explaining why your condition qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits.

Supporting Evidence in Your Disability Claim

Before your hearing you may want to consider meeting with doctors and medical professionals who have treated you for your condition. Ask them to write letters explaining your disabling condition and how it interferes with your ability to work. These letters should be detailed, noting exactly what you can and cannot do due to your disability. While these letters in and of themselves will not win a Social Security Disability claim for you, they can go a long way in helping an Administrative Law Judge see how your condition affects your ability to perform your day-to-day job-related activities.

Going to the Disability Hearing

On the day of your hearing, all of your documents and medical evidence should be in order. Make sure you dress appropriately. While you do not have to show up in a designer suit, you don't want to go in wearing torn jeans and a dirty t-shirt either. You will be presenting your Social Security Disability case in front of a judge. This judge will want to be shown the respect he or she deserves, and a part of that respect is dressing appropriately for your hearing.

When the Social Security Disability Administrative Law Judge asks you questions during your hearing, do not answer them unless you completely understand the question that is being asked. If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification before providing an answer. The last thing you want is to have your Social Security Disability claim denied because you misunderstood a question that was asked of you.

Don't be afraid to speak out during your Social Security Disability hearing. It is very important that the judge hear everything you have to say. If you feel you are being cut off while you are explaining information that is vital to your case, do not be afraid to politely ask if you can continue to finish your explanation.

It can be a stressful and intimidating process to appear in front of a judge, no matter what the reason. Remember, you are not in trouble and there is no reason to be nervous. This is your day in court where you get to explain why you are entitled to the Social Security Disability benefits that you were denied. Go in prepared and consider bringing an attorney with you. Many claimants go on to successfully win their Social Security Disability claims at their hearings and if you prepare and handle your hearing properly, there is a good chance you will be one of them. 

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