So it’s finally time to have your social security hearing before the Administrative Law Judge. Many people are very nervous about the hearing. This blog will help prepare you. So sit back relax and take a deep breath. I will tell you what to expect, who will be at the hearing, things you will want to do and things you will want to avoid.
Disability hearings are more informal than the typical court proceeding. Your hearing room will most likely be a room the size of an average office. The Judge will be seated at one side of the table. Often times the Judges do not wear their robes for the Hearing. You and your Representative will be seated on the other side of the table. In a social security disability hearing there are only a few people in the room. In addition to you, your Representative, and the Judge you will see someone operating a tape recorder. There may also be a vocational expert and a doctor present. You will have the opportunity to bring 1 or 2 witnesses and they will also be in the room.
The first thing you will want to make sure you do is Arrive On Time. If you are late the Judge may not allow your case to be heard. As a matter of fact it’s best to arrive early. This will allow you time to find the room, speak with your representative and relax. The Hearing begins with the Judge giving a brief overview of your disability claim and stating the issues to be decided. The average Hearing lasts between 45 minutes to 1 hour. However, a Hearing can be as short as 10 minutes or last over several hours.
Some Judges will ask you questions others will let your attorney ask you all the questions interrupting for clarification or additional information. At this time you will be under oath and this is your opportunity to explain why you should receive social security disability. When answering questions (even if the questions are posed by your Representative) be sure to fully answer the question. Sometimes it may be tempting to skip information that you and your Representative have previously discussed. Do Not skip information it is important the Judge hear the complete answer. In general you should discuss your situation as if you were speaking to someone who doesn’t know anything about your case.
The Judge has discretion to decide if he will allow your witnesses to testify. After your testimony any witnesses the Judge allows will be questioned. Your witnesses are there to testify on any problems they have seen you have that would affect your ability to work. Some people bring a doctor, a family member or a close friend.
Next, a doctor or vocational expert called by the Judge may testify. Your representative will have an opportunity to cross-examine them. Lastly, the Judge will ask if you have anything to add. Do Not try to defend your entire case at this time. Let your representative handle arguing case law. Your representative may make a closing argument at the hearing or submit one in writing.
The Judge usually does not give a decision at the end of the Hearing. Typically, you will receive a decision in writing 1 to 2 months after the Hearing. Now you know exactly who will be there, how long it will take and what will happen.
If you would like a helping hand navigating this process feel free to contact me.