Why Is A Medical Expert At My Alj Hearing
In cases involving complex or unclear medical evidence, an ALJ may seek the advice of an independent medical expert to get a better understanding of the medical evidence in a case.
MEs are physicians, psychologists, and other medical professionals in the specialty appropriate to your diagnosed impairment. They are not there to examine you. Their purpose is to provide factual and impartial expert opinion evidence for the ALJ to consider when making a decision about your ability to work.
MEs may answer questions that could be decisive in your case, such as whether your impairment meets or medically equals a specific listing. Or they may be asked to give their opinion about what you can still do despite your impairments, and if you have limitations that make you unemployable.
The ME is expected to cite specific evidence from your record to support his or her testimony.
An ALJ may have the ME testify before, during, or after a hearing. The ME often testifies by phone or may be asked to testify in person or by video teleconferencing.; Sometimes MEs provide opinions in writing by answering written questions from the ALJ called interrogatories.
What Happens During The Hearing
The hearing starts with a swearing in and documentation of everyone participating in the hearing. The judge generally begins the hearing by reading a brief statement about your claim and then begins asking you about your background, your work history and your medical conditions and how they limit you.
Some judges ask the bulk of the questions and then ask your attorney to follow-up and some judges prefer that your attorney do most of the questioning and then the judge follows up. After testimony is complete, the judge will want to question the VE.
Youll Be Expected To Explain Certain Facts
If there are any gaps in your medical history, you will be asked about them. Youll need to answer honestly about why you didnt seek treatment. For example, maybe you were without insurance at the time. If youre not honest and its obvious, youll lose credibility with the judge. They may ask you to explain bad facts. Medical records sometimes contain bad facts that can hurt your case if you dont explain them properly.
Don’t Miss: How To Apply For Michigan Disability Benefits
If Your Social Security Disability Application And Request For Consideration Has Been Denied The Next Step Is The Hearing Heres What To Expect
By Melissa Linebaugh, Contributing Author
Once you have been denied for disability twice , the Social Security Administration allows applicants to request a hearing .
For most disability claimants, this step is their best shot at winning benefits â statistically, the hearing level has the highest award rate of any step in the appeals process. In this article, weâll answer the most common questions people have to help you understand what to expect.
Read Also: How To Get A New Disability Card
Cpp Disability Social Security Tribunal Hearing: What To Expect
If your CPP disability benefits have been denied at the Reconsideration, your next step is the Social Security Tribunal hearing. But, you might not know what that looks like, and you might be worried. And rightfully so! There isnt a lot of information online about the SST hearings. In this article, we will explain what happens and what to expect at the Social Security Tribunal hearing. Hopefully, this will take some pressure off if you have one coming up.;
This article is part of our Ultimate Guide to CPP Disability Benefits.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does Disability Pay For Bipolar
What Should I Do To Prepare For The Hearing
Your attorney should go over the main issues in your case prior to your hearing. What I tell my clients is just relax and try to get a good night sleep before. The hearing will be over before you know it. They usually whiz right by once you are in there. I also make the comparison that it is like going to see your doctor. Essentially you are telling the judge what is wrong with you; what you feel like; and what you can and can’t do physically and mentally.
How Should I Dress
Due to COVID, theres no need to dress up. All disability hearings are now conducted by telephone, so you can testify from the comfort of your pajamas. Please refer to our helpful tips and hints for testifying at a telephonic hearing, which has its own nuances that are different than in-person hearings.
Recommended Reading: How To Write A Social Security Disability Brief
How To Apply For Social Security Disability
If you become disabled and are no longer able to work, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. The typical application process takes at least six months, and most people have to file an appeal after their initial application is denied. Theres also a five-month waiting period before your disability payments start.
If there are delays in the application process, you will usually be eligible to receive back pay of your benefits. However, you may struggle to pay your bills in the meantime depending on your level of savings.
Social Security Disability Hearing Tips
After filing for your appeal, you can expect to receive a notice in the mail that will notify you of your hearing date. This notice will be given to you 20-30 days in advance to notify you of your hearing date. Before the hearing you will want to be sure to submit any new medical evidence in your case. The new medical evidence can include any new doctor reports or exams. These documents will need to be submitted to the Office of Adjudication and Review. Be sure that anything you are submitting is no older than 2-3 months. The;ALJ;will only want to review current information.
The;ALJ;will also have the opportunity to question your witnesses if they wish to. It is very likely that there will be a vocational expert who will testify at your disability hearing as well. The VE is there to give their opinion as to what kind of job you would be able to do with the medical conditions that you have. Your disability lawyer will be able to question the VE in order to dispute any information that may not be accurate given your condition. After the hearing, you still may be able to communicate with the;ALJ;if there is additional information to share.
Also Check: How To Apply For Short Term Disability In Az
What Does The Medical Expert Or Vocational Expert Do
The medical expert is there to give the judge an expert opinion as to your medical conditions. The ME usually lists the claimant’s impairments which he/she considers medically determinable and severe and then gives an opinion as to whether the claimant’s condition meets or equals a medical “listing.” The vocational expert is there to testify about jobs. Usually the VE will classify all your past work and then answer “hypothetical” questions from the ALJ regarding whether someone with certain limitations can perform your past work and/or other available jobs.
Your attorney should be able to ask the experts any needed questions. Usually you don’t communicate directly with the experts and they usually don’t testify until the very end of the hearing. I usually tell my clients that by that point in the hearing they can just relax and zone out for a while while the judge, myself and the expert talk.
What Are The Odds Of Winning My Disability Case At The Hearing
Every case is different. There are so many factors that can affect your case that its impossible to predict. I can normally tell you the strength of your specific case after I review your file. If youd like to have a discussion about your case, let me know.
That being said, one of the biggest indicators is the individual ALJs statistics. That is not to say that this will have any bearing on your particular case, but rather, is just a general idea of how your particular ALJ tends to rule. Those statistics are publicly available here.
We dont like to discuss odds because it makes it sound like your case is a game of chance. We prepare all of our cases to the best of our ability regardless of the strength and regardless of the ALJ assigned. Thats the only way to properly represent you.
Also Check: What To Claim For Va Disability
What Happens After I File A Request For Hearing With An Administrative Law Judge
After you receive a denial on your Request for Reconsideration, you have 60 days to file a Request for Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Once you file a Request for Hearing, your file is transferred to the Office of Hearing Operations which will schedule and conduct the hearing.
This also starts the hearing preparation process on our end. Once we file your Request for Hearing, well get access to your Social Security file. We have full access to your file electronically so we can see everything that was used in your application and reconsideration. This will tell us exactly what we need to do in order to properly prepare your case for hearing.
We will send you treatment status updates to make sure we have your most recent medical treatment documented. We may also send you a medical source statement for your doctor to complete.
Our Hackensack Nj Disability Attorney Discusses Preparing Your Testimony
If you have questions about Social Security disability, our Hackensack disability attorney can help you prepare to testify at your disability hearing. You will need to show that you cannot work at any of the jobs that you previously held during the past 15 years and that you cannot work at any other jobs that are commonly available in the marketplace.
Read Also: Does Leg Amputation Qualify For Disability
Here Are Some Answers To Common Questions About The Social Security Disability Hearing And The Alj
The fear of the unknown can produce a lot of anxiety. Hopefully this article can give you a better understanding of what might take place at your ALJ hearing. Although every hearing is different, and each judge has his or her own way of doing things, there is enough commonality in the hearings that you can have some idea of what it will be like. I will answer the most common questions people have:
Contact A California Ssdi Attorney For More Information
You are not required to hire a lawyer to file an SSDI appeal. However, we strongly urge you to consider contacting our California SSDI attorney to discuss the benefits of hiring a lawyer to appeal a Social Security decision. The appeals process is complicated. An experienced attorney understands the process and knows what evidence is required to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Contact us today.
Read Also: Can You Get Disability For Aphasia
What Happens At A Disability Hearing
Created by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors
The second level of appeals for Social Security disability claims, after reconsideration, is a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. You will have 60 days to request an administrative hearing after you have received notice that your reconsideration has been denied, which provides plenty of time to get acquainted with the process and prepare for your hearing.
This article discusses what happens at a disability hearing for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claims. See “Preparing for Your Social Security Disability Hearing” and “Social Security Disability Appeals” for more information.
What To Expect At Your Social Security Disability Hearing
If you are like the 70% of individuals who were denied social security disability benefits on your initial application, and your reconsideration has also been denied, any further action for your claim will result in a disability hearing. This hearing will be overseen by an administrative law judge and will be held in a private setting.
While the setting may be more intimate than a traditional courtroom, you will want to take the hearing very seriously, and dress appropriately. Those in attendance would include you, SSD attorney, the judge, someone to record the proceedings and potentially a witness that the Social Security Administration has in attendance.
Once the social security disability hearing begins, here is what you can expect to happen during the proceedings.
You will be questioned by the judge
First and foremost, the administrative law judge wants to understand your case and your need to receive social security disability benefits. Questions that you will receive will center around medical issues and treatment, past employment, education and how your life is impacted by your current disability. Being honest and thorough on how your daily life is affected by the limitations caused by your disability will be key.
Your attorney can speak on your behalf
An expert witness may be asked about your condition
You will not receive a decision that day
Getting an attorney involved prior to the hearing
Recommended Reading: What Is The Max Social Security Disability Benefit
Your Social Security Disability Claim May Be Denied Dont Go Through Hearing Stage Alone
An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help you prepare you and your case for your moment before the Administrative Law Judge. This is the stage where youre most likely to be approved, so having an advisor and advocate on your side for the hearing makes sense. If you or someone you know is filing for SSD, or has filed and been denied, call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at for a free case evaluation, or simple contact us online.
Your Work Status And History:
Be prepared to discuss your work history over the past 15 years. This will be information the ALJ needs to know to understand how your disability affects your ability to work, such as:
- Why did you leave a previous job, and how long were you there? What was your rate of pay while there, and would you be able to do that job now?
- Have you tried to work since the onset of disability? How did those work attempts turn out?
- At the time you became disabled, what job did you have? What were those dates of employment? What were your exact job duties?
- How long did it take to learn to do this job?
- Describe machines, tools, and equipment used
- Describe any technical knowledge or skill used in this job.
You May Like: Can You Continue To Work While Filing For Disability
What To Expect During A Social Security Disability Hearing In Federal Court
For Social Security disability claimants deep in the appeals process, a Social Security Disability Hearing in federal court is the last stop on the road to obtaining disability benefits. After a claimant is either denied review or denied benefits by the Appeals Council, the claimant may appeal further by filing a civil suit in federal court to be heard before a U.S. District Court judge.
You May Like: How Many Weeks Is Short Term Disability
What To Expect At My Social Security Disability Hearing
A Social Security disability hearing is typically about 45 minutes long, but could be as short as 5 minutes or take over an hour. The hearing is adjudicated by an Administrative Law Judge . In addition to the claimant, the claimants attorney and the ALJ, a court reporter and possibly a medical and/or vocational expert could be present. If the claimant is a juvenile or unable to testify on their own behalf, a family member or other person that knows the claimant is typically permitted to testify at the hearing.
Social Security hearings are inquisitive in nature, meaning the purpose of the hearing is for the claimant and claimants attorney to present evidence to the ALJ so the ALJ can determine if the claimant is disabled under the rules of Social Security. There is no opposing attorney or anyone else that is arguing that the claimant is not disabled.
A typical hearing can be broken down into three sections.
- 29 Apr
Don’t Miss: How To Check Status Of Disability Claim
Know What Questions To Expect
You may be more comfortable if you know what kinds of questions to expect during the hearing. The administrative law judge will likely ask you for your name, Social Security number, age, mailing address, height and weight. After that, you should be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What is your formal education?
- Do you have any vocational training?
- Are you currently working?
- What was your last job and what were your job responsibilities?
- Have you tried working since you became disabled?
- Where else have you worked in the last 15 years and what were your job responsibilities?
- What is your diagnosis?
- What treatments have you tried?
- Do your treatments have any;side effects?
- How does your disability impact your daily activities?
- How does your disability impact your ability to take care of yourself?
- How long can you sit, stand, or walk without needing a break?
- How much can you lift?
- How often do you need to take breaks?
- Do you have any issues getting along with supervisors, co-workers, clients, or customers?
- Do you have any difficulties concentrating or remembering things?
Not every question will be asked at your hearing, but it is important to be prepared and to know how to answer the questions that pertain to your disability before you walk into the hearing room.