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Social Security Disability

Preparing For Your Hearing

Posted on :May 4, 2016Byjpadmin

Most people who file for either Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)SS Denied claim disability benefits will be denied on their initial application. A request for reconsideration is an appeal that is filed and most likely will be denied as well. The second appeal is the request for hearing. It can take up to two years to get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), therefore you will want to be well prepared.  These tips from Janna Lowenstein, Sherman Oaks Social Security disability lawyer, will improve your odds of success.

Medical Records

The most important item you will need to win your case is medical evidence, which is usually composed of consistent treatment records that show medical compliance.

Once your claim reaches the request for hearing level, the Social Security Administration (SSA) no longer develops the medical evidence for your claimant file. A recent copy of your Social Security disability file will be required to see what evidence is in the file. Your attorney or paralegal will review your treatment with you and order medical records to fill in the gaps in treatment. It is very important to include all medical treatment once the hearing is scheduled because you will want the ALJ to have a complete picture of your medical history and impairments.

Your attorney may also obtain special questionnaires from your treating physicians to ask their opinion on your condition and if they feel you can work in any capacity. It is important to be honest with your treating physicians at all times so that everything is in your records.

The Hearing Setup

Once your hearing is scheduled, you will be notified by your attorney of the location, date and time of the hearing. The attorney and/or paralegal will ask you for your most recent dates of treatments so that one last set of medical records can be ordered if necessary. In addition, you will need to furnish a complete list of your medications with dosage and side effects if applicable. Side effects should always be listed as they impact your ability to function and if severe can affect your ability to work.

On the day of the hearing, you can expect to see an ALJ, a hearing reporter, your attorney, a vocational expert (VE), and any witnesses your attorney requests that you bring (not common). The judge oversees the hearing and determines how it is conducted, and makes the final decision on your SSDI or SSI claim. The hearing reporter will not take part in the hearing – their job is to make sure that the entire hearing is audio recorded. Your attorney will present your case and can question any witness including the vocational and medical expert. The vocational expert if present is there to give his expert opinion on work factors in your Social Security claim.  If there is a medical expert present they will give their opinion on the medical issues of the case including the medical listings.

Conduct of the Hearing

The SSDI or SSI hearing will usually start with the ALJ giving a short introduction of the case and admitting the case file as evidence.  The ALJ will then either start the questioning himself or ask the claimant’s lawyer or representative to start the questioning. The questioning usually starts off with basic information such as name, address, date of birth, last grade you completed in school, etc.  You will then usually be questioned about your past work.  The ALJ or your lawyer will ask you about each of your jobs.  They will want to know how long you worked at each job, what your job duties were, how much did you have to lift on that job, how long did you have to sit and stand, did you do any reaching or bending,  how did you use your hands on job, did you supervise other employees, etc.  The reason these questions are asked is to determine the exertional (physical) and non-exertional (non-physical) requirements of the job.  This is important because if the ALJ finds that you can perform any of your past relevant work then you will be found not disabled.

Why Can’t You Work?

You will also be asked what it is that keeps you from being able to work.  You do not want to go into the medical definitions of what you have, for this is already in the evidence. You should answer this question by stating the symptoms or limitations from your medical conditions. The ALJ may ask questions about your limitations due to your condition. Do not exaggerate and be truthful in your answers.

After the questioning is over your lawyer may make a closing statement to sum up your case.  This is sometimes done with a brief.  The ALJ may also ask if you have anything else to say.  Resist the urge to comment on how long this has taken and all the problems there are with Social Security.  Most ALJs are aware of these shortcomings and commenting on them will not help your case.

After your hearing is concluded, you will need to wait for a written decision from SSA. It can take 30-120 days for you to receive a decision. Your attorney will keep you informed of any new developments. That’s it – now you need to relax and wait for the decision.

Janna Lowenstein, Sherman Oaks Social Security disability lawyer, will support you every step of the way … from appealing through hearing and award.  818-905-6611.

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