Many claimants are understandably nervous when it’s time for a disability hearing.
For most people, it’s the first real experience they’ve had with a judge and attorneys.
While Social Security disability hearings aren’t quite like any court scenes you might have seen on TV, the good news is that in the overwhelming number of cases, they’re casual, even friendly affairs where you’ll have the opportunity to tell a judge exactly why you can’t work.
After your attorney and judge go through some procedural matters, the judge will swear you in under oath.
Some judges let your attorney ask you questions first, but most judges do the questioning themselves.
The first questions will often cover basic information such as your address, marital status, height, weight, educational background, and current living situation.
The judge will then move on to your work history. The judge should have a pretty good idea at this point of where you’ve worked within the past 15 years, but will want more information about what your exact duties were, how much walking you did, and the heaviest weight you lifted.
The judge needs this information to determine if you could go back to your past work.
Next, the judge will want to know why you think you are disabled.
This is typically the longest part of the hearing, and can cover a wide variety of topics.
The judge will want to know your symptoms, why you stopped working on a specific date, why you have or haven’t sought certain types of treatment, and whether that treatment has helped you.
You should also be prepared to answer questions about what you do on a daily basis, and if you have any sort of limitations in your activities of daily living. Some of these questions can get a little personal, but there’s nothing wrong with taking your time to answer them.
In some cases, judges will ask about specific things you told a doctor during a certain visit. Your attorney can assist you in reviewing these records at the hearing.
Finally, when the judge is done, your attorney will have the opportunity to ask you follow-up questions to elaborate on your earlier answers or make the judge aware of additional information.