What Can I Expect at a Social Security Disability Hearing?

That, unfortunately, is a very broad question.

Let me start off by saying that the social security disability hearing is not supposed to be an adversarial event, e.g. the courtroom-type action you see on Law & Order or Matlock with objections flying and lots of yelling.

Instead, it is supposed to be more of a fact-finding exercise; you and I having a conversation in front of the judge about what ails you.  Occasionally, the judge may interject with a follow up question wanting more details but generally the disability hearings consist of me eliciting direct testimony from you about your diagnoses, their symptoms and how they keep you from essentially working a full- time job.

A legal construct called the “rules of evidence” is usually not in play, where there are restrictions on how questions are asked and objections made when they are not followed.  There are no other attorneys in the courtroom.

In fact, usually the only people present are the judge, the vocational expert, the courtroom reporter, you and I.  It is a private social security hearing, so there are no spectators allowed.

Again, broadly speaking, the judge will lead off by thanking us for coming, swear you and the vocational expert in and ask you a series of background questions, e.g. your name, age, address, education, etc.

Following that, most often  the judge will hand the case off to me and we will have the conversation I described above.  After we have finished, the judge will ask the vocational expert about your past work and what education and abilities were required to perform it.

With those particulars in mind, the judge will then ask a series of hypothetical questions about an individual -- not you – who is your age, has your education and also has your past work experience, if subjected to certain sets of physical and or emotional limitations, could that person perform your past or any other work in the national or regional economy.  Typically the vocational expert will not have any questions for you.

Then the judge will thank us for coming and tell us it should be two or three months before the decision is published.

But, and this is a big but, every judge is different, and every one will run the hearing the way they want to.  Some like to ask all the questions, some will hardly ask any.  Some like briefs, pre-trial orders, some do not.  It is important for us to know exactly what each judge expects and prepare for it accordingly, which we do through a series of pretrial conferences.

When we show up for the social security disability hearing, you will know exactly what to expect and be fully prepared for it.

If you suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work, please contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.

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