Giving The Judge Vague Answers
At the hearing, the ALJ is likely to inquire as to the frequency, intensity, and duration of your symptoms. Vague answers to these questions are a pet peeve of many ALJs. If, for example, you suffer from migraine headaches, don’t say, “I get a lot of migraines, and they hurt really badly.” Instead, try to quantify your symptoms to the extent possible: “I get a migraine headache about four to five days a week, and they usually last from four to as much as twelve hours.” Try to describe your pain in detail with descriptive words like “burning,” “shooting,” “aching,” or “throbbing,” rather than simply stating that something hurts.
Also, be sure to use examples from your daily life that illustrate your functional limitations. Think back to specific instances where your medical issues have caused you problems. Did you miss the most recent Thanksgiving with your family because of depression or anxiety? Have you dropped dishes and broken them due to arthritis in your hands? Are you unable to pick up your young child because of back pain? The ALJ is much more likely to be persuaded with specific answers and concrete examples than vague assertions.
If Denied File A Request For Reconsideration
If your claim for Social Security disability benefits is denied, the next step is to file a Request for Reconsideration. If you receive a second denial, youll then file another appeal and wait for your turn to have a disability hearing with an Administrative Law Judge .
Statistically, you have the greatest odds of being granted benefits at this step in the process. However, if the ALJ doesnt rule in your favor, the chances that you will be approved for benefits at a later stage are very slim. So its important to do everything you can to prepare for your disability hearing.
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How To Win A Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security disability hearings are legal proceedings. They take place in front of an;ALJ;who will listen to your testimony and review your documents. The;ALJ;will then make a decision about your disability based on what you present in the hearing. The following tips can help you win your;SSD;hearing:
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How Formal Is It
Disability hearings are much less formal than hearings you may have experienced in a courthouse. Often, the rooms are small and appear more like conference rooms than hearing rooms. But most ALJs wear robes similar to what you would see in a courtroom and generally sit in the front of the room on an elevated platform. You should stand when the ALJ enters the room and wait until the ALJ has taken his or her seat before resuming yours.
Never wear a hat or chew gum during a proceeding. You don’t need to wear a dress or suit but you should be dressed appropriately. No shorts, t-shirts, or short skirts. Children are generally not permitted to attend hearings.
What Happens If I Win My Disability Case At The Hearing
You will be issued a Notice of Award which calculates your benefits and you will receive payment for your back benefits. It used to be that the Notice of Award was issued first and then payment, but nowadays, my clients have been receiving their benefits before receiving the Notice of Award.
We like to review the Notice of Award for you to make sure you were not underpaid. Weve had clients who have had incorrect benefit calculations and weve had to get those issues correct.
Our fee is typically paid directly by Social Security so you normally dont have to worry about that.
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Here Are Some Tips To Help You Prepare For Questions The Judge May Ask At Your Disability Hearing
By Melissa Linebaugh, Contributing Author
How should you answer the judge’s questions at a disability hearing, and how many questions can you expect to be asked? Sometimes the ALJ will not ask the disability claimant any questions; at other times the ALJ will ask you several questions. But since most hearings will normally be concluded under an hour , you can count on not having to answer questions for an extended time period.
The prospect of answering an administrative law judge’s questions at a disability hearing can be daunting, no matter how well prepared you are. However, there are some important guidelines you should follow that will make the process go more smoothly and increase the chance that you will be successful with your claim for Social Security disability.
What Should You Not Tell A Disability Doctor
The last thing you want to do during a Disability medical exam is exaggerate your condition. Dont say you have pain everywhere or try and make your condition look worse than it really is. The doctor and staff will observe you arriving at the office, entering the exam room, and getting on and off the table.
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You Go Through With Your Hearing Despite The Judge Suggesting A Continuance And You Get Denied
Say, you appeal to the Appeals Council saying that the judge made many mistakes in the decision.
But here is what the Appeals Council is looking for:
What records were available to the judge at the hearing? And based on those records, was the judge incorrect in his ultimate decision?
If your records were incomplete and all the judge had were records from 2 years prior to the hearing, of course, he will deny the case!
In this situation, the Appeals Council is correct in siding with the judge because of that huge gap.
Consider this: How could the judge tell if you were disabled if there were two years of missing records?
What Happens At A Social Security Disability Hearing
I like to make sure that my clients understand that the hearing is closed to the public.
This is not like a regular courtroom where anybody can listen in to the proceedings.
The hearing is a private matter and the only people in the hearing room are the participants, and possibly a witness .
The one overarching theme that is important to remember is this ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH!
Remember, the ALJ likely hears hundreds of cases per year and has seen and heard it all.
They can spot exaggerations and lies very easily. If they catch you doing this, you will lose all credibility and likely lose your chance at disability benefits.
Often, the ALJ starts, and then your attorney follows up, but it could work in the opposite direction.
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When And Where Is The Hearing
Hearings can be teleconferenced or in person. Currently, due to the COVID pandemic, all hearings are being held via teleconference. It is possible that due to the extended nature of this pandemic, all future SSA hearings may be via teleconference.
As for timing, this can vary quite a bit. Some claimants will see a judge within a few months, but many can wait six months or more. The volume of cases is difficult to predict, but during periods of high unemployment many more people will apply for disability. This means it may take longer for SSA to adjudicate claims.
Specific Activity Limitation Questions
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What To Know About Your Ssdi Hearing
Before the Hearing
You or your attorney may request a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge . You can request this online or by writing the SSA directly. All requests must be in writing. Once the SSA has received your request, they will assign you a hearing date and a judge. Once your hearing date and judge is set, you can then begin preparing for your case.
It is important to know that the SSA will no longer gather medical records on your behalf. Once your claim is denied, they will stop developing your case. As such, it is up to you to gather medical records and submit them to the ALJ.
At least 75 days before your hearing, you will receive a notice from the SSA telling you the date, time and location of your SSDI hearing. This place will be within 75 miles of your home in general. If you are unable to travel because of your disability, you can tell the SSA you are unable to travel and request a remote hearing.
Day of the Hearing
On the day of the hearing, it is important to dress appropriately. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good impression. You want to arrive in clean and presentable clothing. You do not have to wear formal clothing, but torn, ripped or dirty clothes will just show a lack of respect for the courts.
Be sure to show up on time or even early. Do not arrive late or your case may be dismissed. When your hearing begins, it is important to speak honestly with the ALJ.
After Your Hearing
Sometimes It’s Okay To Cancel Your Social Security Disability Hearing
Sometimes, it really is okay to cancel your Social Security disability hearing before it’s time to see the judge and explain your case. While this may seem like a setback, especially after you’ve waited so long to have your hearing in the first place, canceling may actually help your case in the future.
The first, is if you have been denied at the hearing level in the past.
All judges take one of two views on claimants that have attempted to win their disability benefits at the hearing level in the past but have been denied.
First, about 1/2 of the judges feel that a claimant that is there for a second or third hearing is doing nothing more than clogging up the system for other deserving claimants. These judges will go to great lengths to uphold a prior decision and are often skeptical of any allegations a claimant may make regarding his or her condition. In the judge’s mind, you were determined not to be disabled by a prior competent judge, so why are you here yet again to receive another denial? You are being blamed for one of the reasons why it takes so long for people to have their cases heard at the hearing level.
It’s also okay to cancel your hearing if you know you don’t have enough medical evidence to support all of your allegations.
Let me show you why:
We help claimant’s throughout the United States fighting for their Social Security disability benefits. If you need help, please call our office at: 780-9125.
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Getting A Feel For What The Claimant Will Do At The Social Security Hearing
I know it sounds strange to say this, but the reason I like to prepare my clients no more than 2 days before the hearing is that I want them to be feeling the hearing looming over their head.
You are probably thinking, Why would you torture people like that? They are already nervous about the hearing and you want them to feel that pressure?
Yes! I do.
Because when they feel that the hearing is just around the corner, claimants are stressing out. And when Im preparing them for the hearing, they get to stress out BEFORE the hearing.
They also get a chance to make mistakes and I get to correct those mistakes BEFORE they happen.
When the prep is done they had a chance to feel how it would be during the hearing.
When the hearing finally comes, even if they are a little nervous, they already know how its going to be.
And the hearing goes very smoothly with a prepared claimant.
Tips To Win Your Ssdi Hearing
It takes a long time to get to your SSDI hearing. In many cases, you may wait a year or more to get to court and stand before the Administrative Law Judge. Until then, here are some tips to help you win your SSDI hearing:
- ;Hire an SSDI Lawyer
- Prepare Good Notes and Documents
- Do Not Minimize the Effects of Your Disability
One of the best ways to win your SSDI hearing is to hire an experienced attorney to help represent you. While you can represent yourself, it is not recommended. Applicants with legal representation have a greater chance of winning the benefits they need. Your attorney can help ensure that your case is prepared strongly and that you have the necessary evidence and documentation to back up your claims.
At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our Arkansas SSDI attorneys will help you prepare your case and give you the best chance of success at your SSDI hearing. Our lawyers will support you every step of the way, so you feel prepared as you enter the court.
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What Happens At The Social Security Disability Hearing
Every judge is different so while the basic outline of a hearing is the same, each judge has his or her own process. Its important to discuss the specifics about your judge with your attorney.
In most cases, the judge and your attorney will address some administrative issues first:
- Is the record complete?
- Do you object to any exhibits?
- Do you waive a reading of the issues?
Then your attorney would ordinarily make an opening statement. This is where your attorney explains to the judge the specific provisions in the law that make you disabled.
From there, the ALJ will ordinarily ask you questions. Your attorney may ask you some follow up questions. We cover the contents of your testimony below.
There may be expert witnesses at your hearing. There may be a vocational expert who answers questions about jobs in the economy. There may be a medical expert who answers questions about your medical conditions. Every case is different. If there is an expert witness in your case, your attorney should be prepared to cross examine that expert.
After all the testimony is complete, the judge may ask for a closing argument. This is where your attorney applies the testimony of the witnesses to the provisions in the law which would render you disabled.
What Not To Say At A Social Security Disability Hearing
Although Social Security Disability hearings are less formal than traditional courtroom trials, they nevertheless cause many people to feel anxious or stressed. These feelings are understandable. The average wait time for an administrative hearing in Chicago is 14.9 months, so youve no doubt waited a long time for a hearing date. Not to mention, a lot is riding on the administrative law judges decision.
Yet while the feelings are normal, they are mostly unnecessary 62% of SSD applications are approved following an administrative hearing. So, chances are more than good that your application will be approved and you will finally get the benefit you deserve.
There are, however, things you can say at an SSD hearing that can put you among the 38% of people whose applications are denied. This doesnt mean you should lie when questioned by the ALJ or the attorneys; rather, pay close attention to the question, dont offer more information than what is asked of you, and be careful how you phrase your answers to avoid making it seem like your disability is minimal.
With that being said, here is what not to say at your SSD hearing .
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I Havent Been Going To The Doctor Because I Dont Think Their Recommended Treatment Will Work
Youve done two things with that statement: