Ever wonder what really happens at an administrative law hearing?
The Disability Hearing.
Because most people have never been through the legal process before, going to an administrative hearing after being denied Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) can be a frightening prospect.
But it doesn’t need to be.
The administrative hearing is the legal proceeding where the ALJ who works for the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) reviews your medical records, your work history and the reason(s) why you were originally denied benefits.
After taking evidence (letters, medical records etc. and sworn testimony from you, medical or vocational experts and possibly any witnesses you may have) the ALJ decides whether or not you should be awarded disability benefits.
It’s Not That Formal.
Administrative hearings generally take place in conference rooms and the ALJ typically does not wear a long black robe. The room is not packed with people. Generally, the only people present at your hearing will be the ALJ, you (the claimant), your counsel, a hearing reporter, and an expert witness. Any witnesses you may bring with you may or may not be allowed to be in the room if they are not testifying—it’s up to the judge.
The administrative hearing is typically a small and not very formal setting.
But don’t let that fool you. The procedures and proper rules for conducting the hearing, while not as formal as those in a courtroom, are still structured. Which is why it is important that you be represented by experienced counsel.
When you are called to testify, you will be “sworn in.” You’ve seen this on T.V. a hundred times. The witness is asked, “do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”. The language may vary a little bit, but basically you will swear under penalty of perjury to tell the truth.
Then the ALJ will ask you questions about your previous work, your medical conditions, treatments, what your limitations are, etc. All things that you know intimately because you have lived it. This is your opportunity to tell the judge what it’s like to be you and to live your daily life with the conditions you struggle with.
You can think of this as your chance to tell the ALJ why you can no longer work full-time or on a consistent basis, and why you need disability benefits. You will be able to relax and just be yourself if you think of your testimony as simply a conversation you are having with the ALJ.
Although going to hearing may be an unfamiliar thing for you, with the right counsel to assist you, you will feel confident, relaxed and prepared.
Social Security Disability Attorneys.
If you have been denied disability benefits, contact us. We are experienced disability attorneys. We have helped many people get benefits and we can help you, too. We have offices throughout Missouri. We also have offices in Kansas, Illinois and in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer FREE consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at 855-727-8625.