As you might have heard, it is not unusual to be turned down for Social Security benefits. No matter how much you may need them, the rules about showing medical proof are often too confusing to understand and comply with when you apply. The need to seek out legal representation is paramount, since doing so can improve your chances of having your claim approved as a result of the appeal hearing. To help you prepare for this hearing, read on to find out about the actions that may take place during your time in front of the administrative law judge (ALJ).
1. The hearing is private, with only one case at a time being heard. Don't plan to bring anyone along but your Social Security attorney and plan to arrive a few minutes early for the appointment.
2. The hearings are not held in courtrooms but in large conference rooms. They may also take place using video streaming. It is a more intimate atmosphere, but the procedures are far from casual.
3. Present at the meeting will be you, your attorney, the ALJ, a vocational expert, a court reporter, and sometimes, a witness or two.
4. The ALJ will ask you questions about your claim. Be prepared to speak about your medical affliction, the treatment you have had, your prognosis, and, most importantly, how your illness affects your most recent job.
5. Your Social Security attorney also has an opportunity to question you about your claim. This allows the attorney to bring up more information about your affliction that could help strengthen your claim.
6. Vocational experts are on hand to help the judge determine what level of work, if any, you might be able to perform given your level of disability. These experts are trained in understanding how a medical or mental problem might affect the body and thus the ability to work at specific job tasks.
7. In most cases, you will be informed of the appeal hearing's results in about 30 days or so. In some more unusual circumstances, the judge may issue a decision after your hearing from the "bench".
8. Your attorney will prepare you to deal with the process by going over the questions the judge is likely to ask you ahead of time. They will explain to you the importance of expressing your inability to work at your job and they will dispute any adversarial opinions of the vocational expert.
9. Once you receive your denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you only have a certain amount of time to respond. Speak to an SS disability lawyer as soon as you have the denial so that you will be prepared for your appeal hearing.