How should I prepare for a disability hearing with Social Security?

If you are preparing for a Social Security hearing, it is advisable to have a representative who is competent with Social Security law and disability determination procedures and rules. Of course, you are entitled to represent yourself at a Social Security Disability hearing; however statistics indicate that Social Security Disability and SSI claims with representation are more likely to result in an allowance, i.e. an aproval.

This is less true, of course at the lower levels of the system (the initial claim level and the request for reconsideration level) because at those levels decisions are made by disability examiners. Examiners tend to hold down the number of approvals that they make, because they report to unit supervisors and also because they are subject to having their decisions reviewed by DQB, the disability quality branch (a quality control unit that looks for errors in a disability examiner's decision process).

That the hearing level offers a greater chance of being approved is somewhat obvious if one considers the fact that over 70 percent of all initial claims nationwide are denied by disability examiners. And over 85 percent of all reconsideration appeals are denied by disability examiners on a nationwide average basis. Yet, more than 60 percent of all cases that are brought before administrative law judges at disability hearings are approved when the claimant is represented.

What do these facts say about how one should proceed after being denied on either an application for disability or a request for reconsideration? Simply that it will nearly always be in a claimant's best interests to file an appeal, the eventual goal being to get a case heard by an administrative law judge. Hearings, of course, cannot be requested until a reconsideration appeal has been denied. Hearings also take an extraordinary amount of time to get to.

For instance, if a claimant receives a notice of denial on a reconsideration and decides to file the next appeal, the request for a hearing before an administrative law judge, it may take 12-24 months to get schedule for a hearing. By that point, the total amount of time spent on a case, from the very first filing of the claim, will probably be over two years at a minimum.

However, because it takes so very long to get to a hearing, a claimant should make sure that they are well prepared.

For most claimants who are at the point of requesting a disability hearing, the most important consideration will be whether or not to get representation. This is not just an important consideration, it is a crucial one. Statistics are very clear in this regard. While approximately forty percent of claimants who go to hearings without a disability lawyer or representative will be successful in winning benefits, for those who go to their hearing with a representative, the likelihood of winning benefits will increase to sixty percent. This represents a 50 percent increased chance of winning for the person who has representation.

Continued at: Why does representation result in a higher win ratio at a hearing?

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Apply for Disability in Henderson, North Carolina
Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
What happens when you go to a Social Security Disability hearing?
How do I request a Social Security Disability hearing - How do I file?
Requesting a Social Security Hearing when you have a Disability Representative or Attorney
How long does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?
What are the odds of a judge giving you a disability denial?
What is a Social Security administrative law judge disability hearing?
What is the time frame for a judge to make a decision for a disability hearing?
How should I prepare for a disability hearing with Social Security?
What are the questions that get asked at a Social Security Disability or SSI hearing?
If you apply for disability in Virginia

Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Virginia?

Getting a Disability Lawyer in Virginia