If you’re facing a disability hearing, you’re probably more than a little stressed. After all, you’ve waited for months for an ALJ to hear your case, and it’s a toss-up whether or not you’ll win your claim for benefits. So what can you do before, during, and after your disability hearing to increase your chances of a successful outcome? A Springfield IL disability attorney can help guide you through the hearing process. To learn more about how to win a Social Security disability hearing, contact Donald J. Hanrahan today.
What to Do Before the Hearing
The Social Security Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) will give you at least 75 days’ notice before your hearing date. While this may seem like a long time to wait, the good news is that it gives you time to prepare. Some of the steps you should take before your hearing include the following:
Submit New Medical Evidence
You should have continued medical treatment from the time that you applied for disability benefits. Any new medical records, test results, and other evidence should be compiled and submitted to the SSA. This evidence will work to support your existing claim and further prove that you are disabled. It may even address gaps that the SSA saw in your medical evidence previously.
Anything you submit prior to the hearing will be reviewed by the ALJ. However, you can also take documents to the hearing with you for review by the ALJ. The ALJ will likely ask you questions about this evidence and verify information contained therein.
Submit a Brief
Your disability lawyer should submit a brief prior to your hearing. A brief is a document that explains the legal reasons that you should win your case. It will summarize all of the evidence that supports your case and detail how it fits the definition of disabled. Specific medical records should be referenced, and new information should be highlighted.
What to Do During the Hearing
A disability hearing is a legal proceeding. You should wear appropriate clothing and be polite and respectful. You should also comply with the requests of the ALJ and answer all questions truthfully. The goal is to present your best self to the ALJ.
You may ask someone you know to attend the hearing with you as a witness. They may be able to speak about your abilities and struggles. A co-worker, roommate, or other person who has seen your abilities and limitations is also acceptable. The ALJ will ask them questions about your personal life, so it is important to talk to them before the hearing about what questions they may face during the hearing. If you’re unable to testify about some of the symptoms of your condition, such as seizures or mania, it’s important to have someone else there to verify your information.
You may also enlist the help of an expert to testify about your conditions. However, experts often submit a report instead. You can work with your attorney to determine the best course of action when using expert witnesses.
There are two types of expert witnesses:
- Vocational Expert (VE) – This expert will testify about your abilities at work. They will have reviewed information about your past work and current medical restrictions to determine what you can and cannot do currently.
- Medical Expert – This includes doctors, psychologists, and others. They rarely attend hearings. They may issue a statement about the nature and severity of your condition.
One of the most common mistakes claimants make is not answering ALJ questions properly. When the ALJ asks you questions, stick to the topic and don’t ramble. It’s important to focus on what is being asked and give a truthful and thorough response. Be specific about your symptoms and limitations while focusing on your disabilities. Be prepared to explain any gaps in medical history or facts that do not support your claim. Your goal should be to paint a picture of your daily living.
What to Do After the Hearing
If you feel that some of the questions that came up at the hearing could be better answered with a written explanation, you can ask the ALJ if you can submit a brief that clarifies certain parts of your case. If the judge allows this, make sure act quickly, as well as address only the question they permitted you to clarify.
Learn More About How to Win a Social Security Disability Hearing
You will likely have questions after the hearing about how long it will take to get a response and what actions you should take next. Your attorney can help.
To learn more about how to win a Social Security disability hearing, speak to Springfield IL disability attorney Donald J. Hanrahan. We will make sure that you prepare as well as possible. Call our office for a consultation today.