What to expect at a disability hearing
This question gets asked quite often. Recently, it was asked on the facebook page for this site (
What happens at a disability hearing?
If you have a Social Security Disability hearing scheduled, you may be wondering what to expect at the hearing. Social Security Disability hearings are more informal than a regular trial hearing. Most Social Security Disability hearings are held at the Social Security hearings office (known as ODAR, the office of disability adjudication and review) with an administrative law judge. Also included at the hearing are your representative, yourself, your witnesses (if you have brought some to the hearing), and possibly medical and/or vocational experts who may be in attendance at the request of the judge.
The administrative law judge presides over the proceedings, which may include the judge asking you questions about your disabling conditions, educational background, or work activity (types of jobs that you have held in the last fifteen years). Sometimes, the judge will use a medical to comment on the medical evidence or a vocational expert to give advice as to your ability to perform your past work or any other work at a level considered to be substantial gainful activity.
The judge may ask you about the severity of your medical and/or mental conditions, specifically as to their impact on your activities both at home and at work. It is important that you give an accurate and truthful account of the effect your medical and/or mental impairments have had on your life. To a degree, Social Security Disability claims are won and lost on the judge's opinion of your truthfulness with regard to the effects your disabling conditions have had upon you.
If the administrative law judge feels that you are disabled under the rules and regulations of Social Security Disability your disability claim (which may be for Social Security Disability or SSI disability) will be approved for monetary medical disability benefits.
However, even if you are given an approval at a hearing and are notified at the hearing of this decision by the judge, it may still be some time before you receive your actual benefits. This is because your medical disability hearing decision must be written up (the judge does not do this - a decision writer does), and forwarded to the payment center to be processed into pay status.
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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.
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