If you are denied Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) probably the best thing you can do is to appeal the denial to get to an administrative hearing. In some states, you will need to appeal twice before you can get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
The hearing is where you will present your case to the judge.
The purpose of the administrative hearing is to allow the ALJ to take a “fresh look” at the medical evidence in your case and to hear testimony about your condition(s) to determine if you are eligible for disability benefits.
At your hearing you will testify, and, in most cases, a Vocational Expert (“VE”) will also testify.
Because the laws, rules and regulations governing disability benefits and administrative hearings are many and complex, to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding at hearing, you should hire experienced social security disability counsel.
What Your Attorney Will Do For You if You Go to Hearing.
What can you expect from your counsel at your administrative hearing?
Will he or she make long, emotional speeches to the ALJ that will bring tears to his eyes? Will your attorney badger the Vocational Expert on cross-examination and make him break down and cry? Will he jump to his feet and yell out objections, or produce “surprise” witnesses and make everyone in the room gasp when the witness comes swinging through the door?
First of all, administrative hearings are not formal trials. They are generally informal proceedings with relaxed rules of evidence. Most hearings are held in conference rooms, not courtrooms. So none of the Perry Mason, L.A. Law, or Law and Order antics that you see on T.V. (even assuming any of that is true) have any place in an administrative hearing. Or in a courtroom either for that matter.
What your attorney will do for you is far more effective than the courtroom dramatics you see on T.V. The major reason why you need experienced counsel at a disability hearing is not so he or she can make objections or long speeches at the hearing, but so that you have a strong, fully prepared case that favors granting benefits when the ALJ gets the file before the hearing.
That means that your attorney will spend time reviewing your file, obtaining medical record updates, and getting a solid understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. He or she will make sure that if you need more evidence or better evidence, (whether in the form of a Residual Functional Capacity form from your doctor or a Medical Source Statement or something else) that that evidence is obtained and sent to the hearing office.
Your attorney will make sure that the hearing office gets copies of everything. He will also prepare you to testify at hearing. And he or she will develop a logical, clear, and persuasive argument that addresses any difficult facts in your case, and why you are no longer able to perform your past work and cannot perform any other work.
Further, if a Vocational Expert testifies at the hearing, your attorney will be able to respond to any hypotheticals the ALJ gives to the VE that are not favorable to your case. An attorney will also be able to pose hypotheticals of his/her own that support the finding you are looking for to counteract any non-favorable hypotheticals.
What you should expect from your attorney if you go to hearing is not courtroom theatrics. You should expect him to be professional and well-prepared and to zealously advocate for you.
Because that is what gets results.
We Handle Disability Cases in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Oklahoma.
If you are applying for SSDI or have been denied benefits, contact us. We are experienced social security disability attorneys. We have offices in Lebanon, Liberty, Lee’s Summit, Mountain Grove, Poplar Bluff, Rolla, St. Louis, St. Joseph, West Plains and other cities throughout Missouri. We also have offices in Kansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. We offer FREE consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Contact us here or call us at 855-727-8625 and schedule your free consultation today.