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What are the questions that get asked at a social security disability or SSI hearing?

When you file an application for disability with the social security administration, either under the SSI or social security disability program, you will be asked numerous questions at the time of application regarding your work history, medical history, and medical treatment sources. The answers to these questions will be recorded on your disability report form which will be submitted with your disability application and claim.

All of this information will be then be transmitted by the social security office to a disability determination services agency in your home state (in most states, it is actually known as DDS, or disability determination services) where your case will be assigned to a disability examiner, a specialist who functions similarly to an insurance claim adjuster.

The disability examiner will review your file, obtain additional medical evidence, and then render a decision using the framework of rules and regulations provided by the social security administration. The examiner will also often find it necessary to contact the claimant to ask for additional information regarding the claimant's work or medical history.

But, typically, the questions that are asked by the examiner will be a rehash of the information that was obtained at the time of application, and will usually be asked for clarificaition or detail purposes. When the disability examiner attempts to get additional information, they will do this by either mailing out a paperquestionaire to be completed and returned, or by making a phone call.

At a disability hearing before an administrative law judge, the process is different. For one thing, it is face to face in a hearing room where you, the judge, and your attorney will be present. This changes the nature of the process immensely simply because there is immediate personal interaction.

However, the actual questions asked will be different because unlike the first two steps of the process (the disability application and the request for reconsideration appeal, both of which must be completed before a disability hearing can be requested, scheduled, and held), your case has already been built and decided. Not only that, at the hearing, unlike the first two steps, represented claimants have had their attorney submit a considerable amount of medical record updates, hopefully including a medical source statement from their principal treating physician.

What questions get asked by a disability judge? The judge may ask you about your educational background, i.e. your level of education, and any additional training you may have obtained. The judge may also inquire about your work history, questioning you about what duties were performed in certain jobs. If you had periods in which your condition caused you to stop working, or you had periods in which you attempted to go back to work but were unable to stay on the job long, this may be asked about.

Additionally, the judge may very well ask about what is referred to as your ADLs, or activities of daily living. Daily living activities are asked about in the first two steps of the claim process (disability application and reconsideration appeal) as well, and the purpose is simply to gauge how much restriction or limitation your physical or mental condition places upon your ability to engage in what are considered to be the normal and routine activities of daily life.

Now, the questions that are asked at a disability hearing may be asked by the judge, or they may be asked by your disability attorney in an attempt to have your input presented and recorded at the hearing. If you've ever watched court programs on television, you've probably noticed that it is not unusual for one's own attorney to pose questions to them.

Of course, it is beneficial for one's disability attorney to discuss in advance of the hearing which questions may be asked by the judge or by the attorney. Not only will this lead to the claimant being better prepared at the hearing, but will also lead to lower levels of discomfort and anxiety during the hearing proceedings. Make no mistake: a disability hearing can be emotionally taxing and draining considering the stakes involved and considering how very long it can take to get to a hearing (very often over two years following the request of a hearing).

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    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
    What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria