At every disability hearing, there's the claimant, their representative, the judge, a hearing reporter who records the proceedings, and a vocational expert who testifies whether the claimant can perform any jobs.
The most confusing part of a disability hearing for claimants is always the vocational expert testimony.
At the hearing stage of your case, you will have the opportunity to appear before an Administrative Law Judge. This judge only hears cases concerning claims for disability benefits and is an employee of the Social Security Administration. The judge will look at a number of different sources of evidence in considering your claim for benefits.
If Social Security Administration has denied your claim for disability benefits, you have a right to personal appearance before an administrative law judge to present evidence supporting your claim. The right to appear in person may be waived, though an administrative law judge may still schedule a hearing if he or she believes it would be helpful in deciding your case. Social Security Administration may also opt to conduct the hearing via video teleconferencing (VTC), though the claimant has the right to object. While a VTC hearing may be speedier and more convenient in some situations, there are compelling reasons to appear in person.
The unfortunate truth of the Social Security disability system is that which judge hears your case can have the biggest impact on whether your application for benefits is approved.
The short answer is a lack of funding for the Social Security Administration from Congress. Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) have not had an increase in funding in many years. SSA officials have told Congress that they need more Social Security Administrative Law Judges and support staff to administer the hearings. However, Congress has yet to provide that money. This issue has been in the news lately.
Claimants who have been denied Social Security Disability benefits can wait months or even years to plead their case before an administrative law judge. When a hearing is finally scheduled, attendance is important. The hearing office is required to provide at least 75 days advance written notice of the hearing. Hearings may be conducted in person, by video teleconferencing (VTC), or by telephone. If you cannot make your scheduled appointment time, you or your appointed representative should notify the Social Security Administration Hearing Office immediately to request a postponement.
You've probably heard that the state of Illinois is not in great shape economically.
At step three of the sequential evaluation process, the adjudicator must determine whether the claimant's diagnosable medical impairments meet or equal a Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments describes the medical criteria for each body system considered severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity. Essentially, the listings are a "short-cut" to getting on disability. Examples of medical diagnoses that meet the Listing of Impairments would include small cell carcinoma of the lungs (Listing 13.14B), amputation of both hands (Listing 1.05A), or an aortic aneurysm with uncontrolled dissection (Listing 4.10). Approximately 25-30% of all disabled beneficiaries meet the level of severity for listings.
Many claimants are understandably nervous when it's time for a disability hearing.