What Do They Do at a Disability Hearing?
Social Security disability hearings are informal hearings before an administrative law judge, and like any other hearing you are allowed to have a representative (a disability attorney or non-attorney representative) present your case.
During the social security disability hearing, the administrative law judge asks questions of you and/or representative based upon the medical and vocational evidence contained in your disability file. Administrative law judges may have vocational and medical experts advise them during the course of the hearing, although most disability decisions are made with out the testimony of experts.
Of course, you are allowed to have your own witnesses but this seldom occurs and is seldom beneficial.
You may wonder what is the true purpose of a Social Security disability hearing, and does the Administrative law judge hearing offer a fair shot for an individual to win disability benefits.
Disability hearings may offer the best chance for winning disability benefits, and may offer the fairest evaluation of an individual’s disabling conditions and the limitations that the condition or conditions impose upon the individual.
Additionally, is the only time in the Social Security disability process in which you are allowed to appear in person before the individual who is making your medical determination. Remember this is the only time that the preparation and gathering additional evidence are the responsibility of the disability claimant.
This may be one of the best reasons to have the services of a disability representative. Your disability representative will acquire relevant statements as to your physical and mental limitations from you physicians and gather current medical documentation to help substantiate your disability claim. Many individuals are not able to gather all of this information, but, more importantly most are not capable of presenting their claim in organized objective manner. Many factors make it difficult for an individual to represent themselves, for example most individuals are emotional about their inability to work, cannot afford to pay for medical records, and most do not know the Social Security disability requirements.
When you go to your Social Security disability hearing, be on time and be prepared to answer questions about your disabling conditions and how they have affected your daily living as well as how they have prevented you from working. Keep in mind; the administrative law judges have more flexibility in making a disability determination, than the state disability agency.
As is the case with judges, the state disability agency follows the rules set forth in the vocational rule grid and the disability handbook (medical criteria) when making their decision. Individual disability examiners write the residual mental and physical functional reports, which are in turn, are reviewed by physicians and management. State disability agency managers, however, have the ability to change an examiners decision; unfortunately this type of intervention most often results in disability claim denials.
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