Social Security Disability Hearings before the SSA

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Waiting for a Social Security disability hearing before the Social Security Administration can take anywhere from 18-24 months after you file your application and appeal(s).  As the wait time for a disability hearing is extended and long, it is to your advantage to hire an experienced and qualified Social Security disability attorney from Parmele Law Firm to represent you at the hearing.  A Social Security disability attorney will help navigate you through the complex world of Social Security disability law by explaining the disability process, what the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is evaluating, and overall, preparing you for your hearing

The first thing to know about a disability hearing is that it is more an informal event as opposed to a court trial.  The hearings are held in smaller conference rooms.  There will not be an audience listening in or watching.  In the hearing, there will be an ALJ, the claimant, claimant’s representative if he or she has one, a hearing reporter to assist in making an audio recording of the hearing, and a vocational expert to provide information on vocational matters.   The hearings proceed in an informal manner as the setting is not an adversarial process.  There is not a government attorney present to oppose the claimant.  The ALJ will hear the evidence and make a decision on the claimant’s ability to work.  

Most Social Security disability hearings occur in the same manner.  The ALJ will usually provide an introductory statement explaining the purpose of the hearing and how it will transpire.  The ALJ will swear in the claimant and any other witnesses, such as the vocational expert, to tell the truth.  Most ALJ’s will then ask the claimant a series of questions about his or her background, work history, why they are unable to work, activities of daily, and medical treatment.  The claimant’s representative will then have an opportunity to ask any necessary follow up questions to help show why the claimant is not able to work any type of full-time job due to the claimant’s physical and/or mental impairment(s).  The last person to testify is usually the vocational expert who is hired as an independent vocational consultant to provide further information about the past work the claimant performed and how various limitations and restrictions would potentially affect an individual’s ability to work.  

After the vocational expert’s testimony, the hearing is usually over.  The hearing itself lasts between 45 and 60 minutes.  The ALJ’s decision will not be issued the day of the hearing but will be issued in writing afterward.  This process can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days before the decision is mailed out, but there is not a set deadline that the decision has to be made by.