Social Security Disability Resource Center
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What happens when you go to a Social Security disability hearing?
Generally, disability hearings take place in a hearings office rather than an actual courtroom. The proceedings are usually no more than an hour, and most are less than an hour. Most often, very few people attend a social security disability or SSI disability hearing, and they might include an administrative law judge, vocational expert, medical expert, you, and your representative (if you have one).
Of course, some social security disability hearings will primarily just involve an administrative law judge, your representative, and yourself.
When present at a hearing, be prepared to answer any questions a hearing official might have for you and be on time, because many administrative law judges have a tight schedule.
The purpose of the disability hearing is to give the claimant, and their representative if they have chosen to be represented by a disability lawyer or a non-attorney representative (at a social security hearing, it is ill-advised to appear without representation), the opportunity to present the claimant's case to present their case to the adjudicator, or decision-maker who, at the hearing, the decision maker is an ALJ, or administrative law.
This process is very different from what occurs at the earlier levels of the process where the claimant never meets the adjudicator (at the initial claim and reconsideration levels, this person is a disability examiner).
What actually happens at a disability hearing will depend greatly on how well A) the case is presented and B) how well the case is prepared for. Presentation of the case will depend on the individual who is handling the presentation having a firm grasp of social security disability and SSI concepts, such as onset date, date last insured, what constitutes substantial gainful work activity, what constitutes a severe impairment, and what types of functional limiations may result from any number of mental and physical impairments.
Case preparation is equally important and largely involves making sure that the administrative law judge hearing the case has access to updated medical records and, hopefully, qualified, objective, and detailed statements from the claimant's treating physicians.
Not all hearings are conducted in the same manner and often this depends on the specific judge involved. However, if you attend a disability hearing and are represented, the following will likely occur:
1. Your attorney or non-attorney representative will have supplied the ALJ will updated records and statements.
2. The ALJ, or administrative law judge, will likely have reviewed this information prior to the hearing.
3. The ALJ may decide to have a vocational or medical expert present so that hypothetical situations can be addressed with the benefit of expert representation. These hypotheticals may involve the claimant's ability, given their medical restrictions, to engage in certain types of activities and to potentially perform certain types of work.
4. The claimant may or may not be asked questions by the judge (or even their attorney) regarding their work history and physical or mental limitations.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
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Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved
FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions
The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
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
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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 in Colorado
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Colorado
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