Social Security Disability Lawyers Tips for
the Best Results at an Administrative Hearing
When an application for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is denied, the next step is filing a request for reconsideration. If that fails, the next level of appeal is a Hearing before an “Administrative Judge”.
In California, it can take a year, or sometimes more, to be scheduled for an Administrative Judge hearing, from the date of requesting it. Because this hearing is the “last chance” in the SSDI appeals process – and because of the extended delays – it is important to discuss this step of the appeals with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.
If you have already been denied twice Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it is unlikely that you will be approved on the third try, unless you hire a skilled attorney. An SSDI lawyer can help you figure out why you may have been denied, “what’s missing” from your evidence, or what you may be doing incorrectly that has resulted in your previous denials.
The lawyers at Cantrell Green in Long Beach California have successfully represented Social Security Disability applicants for more than 40 years. In this article we give you some “tips” for attending an Administrative Judge Hearing. But keep in mind that, there is no substitute for the advice and representation of an experienced Social Security attorney.
Tips Social Security Disability Administrative Judge Hearings:
Be on Time for Your Social Security Administrative Judge Hearing
You will receive a notice of the date, time and location of the SSDI hearing in advance. Allow plenty of time to get there – especially in the Long Beach and Los Angeles area – whether traffic can literally delay you for hours.
Research where to park in advance and allow time for getting through any security, etc. You generally get one shot at a Social Security Administrative Judge Hearing, and your case may be dismissed if you are not there on time.
Be Polite at Your Social Security Administrative Judge Hearing
We understand that a lot is “on the line” for you and your family when you are trying to collect Social Security Disability benefits. But the Administrative Judge is the one who makes the final decision on your case – so never be rude, impatient, argumentative, or vent your frustration over “the system.”
Dress professionally, stand when the Judge enters the hearing room, and address the Judge as “Your Honor”. This shows your respect for the Judge – which can go a long way toward softening his or her attitude during the hearing.
Be Prepared for Your Social Security Administrative Judge Hearing
If possible, review your medical file before the hearing so that you can easily and naturally answer questions about your disability, medical treatments, medications, and any limitations on your ability to work or conduct daily living activities.
Arrange a time to discuss your upcoming hearing with your Social Security Disability attorney. He or she can more fully prepare you for what to expect, and what the Judge may be “looking for” when hearing your case.
Be Honest at Your Social Security Administrative Judge Hearing
You will be answering questions under oath at your hearing – so your responses to the Judge’s questions should be honest and accurate. Do not try to exaggerate your medical condition, or the degree of pain, or the limitations caused by your disability.
The Judge will have your medical records and statements from experts – so he or she already has a good “feel” for the extent of your condition. Additionally, Administrative Judges hold hear hundreds of cases each year – so they are pretty good at spotting lies or exaggerations.
Just truthful about how your medical condition affects your ability to work and perform daily tasks in life.
Be Specific about Your Symptoms and Work/Life Limitations
Your goal should be to give the Judge a clear picture of your impairment and your limitations – along with specific, relevant examples. For example, don’t just say “I have a lot of back pain.” Use descriptive words and exact locations, such as: “I have a constant, shooting pain in my lower back whenever I stand up.”
Also be certain to be specific when describing your limitations. For example, you may say “I can drive to the grocery store, which is 2 miles away – but if I cannot sit in a car for longer than 10 minutes without shooting pain in my lower back.”
Be Careful to Answer (Only!) the Questions You’re Asked
A Judge simply does not have the time to hear the entire history of your disability. So try to answer the exact question you were asked – without providing unnecessary additional information or embellishments.
Pay attention to what the Administrative Judge has specifically asked you – and try to answer it specifically and concisely in a few sentences.
Though your nerves may make you “talkative,” it is especially important not to ramble or go “off topic.” You have a limited amount of time to present your case to the Judge – so don’t waste it (or irritate or bore the Judge) by going “on and on”.
Long Beach Social Security Disability Lawyers: 562-622-4800