What Happens at a Social Security Disability Hearing?

After your application for disability benefits has been denied by the Social Security Administration (typically twice, but it depends on your state) you will be provided the opportunity to appear before an administrative law judge. Your judge will not have been involved in issuing previous denials in your case. Prior to your hearing, the judge will have examined the medical records that you and your representative have submitted to the Social Security Administration.

At the beginning of the hearing, the judge will typically ask several preliminary questions to your attorney. Then, the judge will ask that you and the other witnesses take an oath whereby you agree to tell the truth. The other witnesses typically consist of a vocational expert and sometimes a medical expert. After swearing in the witnesses, the judge will sometimes ask the attorney to question the claimant. However, most of the time the judge will question you first. Generally, the judge begins by asking a few questions about the past work you have performed in the last 15 years. In order to be awarded disability benefits, you must show that you lack the capacity to perform this past work. After exploring your past work, the judge will ask about symptoms and how you are limited by them. Judges often ask how much you think you can lift, how long you can stand, and how far you can walk. It may be difficult to approximate, but judges usually do not appreciate it when claimant answers "not too far" or "not too much". After the judge is finished with her questions, she will allow your attorney to question you. Your attorney will ask questions designed to elicit important details about your symptoms and limitations that they feel the judge overlooked.

Almost every hearing will utilize testimony from a vocational expert. This is an individual with a background placing injured or disabled people in the workplace and with knowledge regarding the lifting, standing, sitting, and skills required for different jobs. The judge will ask the vocational expert a number of questions about the effect of various physical and mental limitations on a hypothetical person's ability to perform your past work and other work. Your representative will ask about additional limitations they believe your record supports. In certain cases, the judge may call an impartial medical expert to give their opinion on the severity of your medical issues based on their reading of the records. Typically, the judge does not announce his decision at the end of the hearing. Instead, the judge will send out a detailed written decision to you and your attorney in 60-90 days.

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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.

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Coon Rapids, MN 55448

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