If you have questions about Social Security disability, our Hackensack disability attorney can help you prepare to testify at your disability hearing. You will need to show that you cannot work at any of the jobs that you previously held during the past 15 years and that you cannot work at any other jobs that are commonly available in the marketplace.
Employment During the Past 15 Years
First, your attorney will have you explain the type of work that you did in the easiest job that you have held in the past 15 years. You will then tell the court why you can no longer work at that job. Your lawyer will help you eliminate reasons that do not apply to Social Security in Hackensack NJ, such as the company relocating or laying off employees.
Commonly Available Jobs
Second, the court considers how much work is available in the marketplace. For example, an applicant who is 50 with a history of heavy-duty, blue-collar work and with no further education than a GED might not be able to perform even light-duty jobs that require extensive standing or lifting between 10 and 20 pounds. The Social Security judge might rule that the applicant qualifies for disability even if he or she can perform a desk job.
Hypothetical Situations and Disability Hearings
Your attorney will talk with you beforehand to prepare you to testify and to advise you regarding statements to avoid. He or she will tell you that the judge who will hear your case is an administrative law judge. The ALJ makes decisions on hypothetical situations. You should not attempt to present common sense arguments to the court since the situation is hypothetical.
In other words, if you are hypothetically offered a job, can you work? Instead, let your lawyer speak for you. Some cases, especially for a person under the age of 50, are quite complex. Your attorney will list valid reasons as to why you cannot work at a desk job and direct you not to bring up other reasons that might not apply in your case. Some of those reasons that the Social Security Administration will likely reject include the following:
- “I can’t find any desk jobs in this area.”
- “I’ve never worked at a job like that before.”
- “I would have to drive too far to go to work.”
What Happens at a Social Security Disability Hearing?
The purpose of a disability hearing is to determine if you are too disabled to work. Although all hearings are a little different, there are some things you can be pretty sure you can expect.
The ALJ Will Question You
The ALJ who is presiding over the hearing will ask you questions that focus on medical history and ability to function. The ALJ may verify information on your SSD application and ask you how your disability impacts your life. The judge isn’t trying to prove that you don’t have a disability. They’re instead trying to determine the extent of severity of any diagnosed medical conditions. You should be completely honest with the ALJ about your conditions and how they affect you.
An Attorney Can Speak on Your Behalf
You are allowed to have an attorney at the hearing with you. They can ask you questions, summarize your case, and speak with others who are present regarding your case. It’s best to work with an attorney who can guide you through the Social Security disability hearing process.
You Have a Right to Appeal
If your claim is denied at the hearing level, you can request reconsideration. This process will send your case back to the SSA to be evaluated by a different person. If you receive a second denial, then you can appeal that as well. It’s important to exercise your right to appeal, even if you feel like you want to give up.
How to Win a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security disability hearings are legal proceedings. They take place in front of an ALJ who will listen to your testimony and review your documents. The ALJ will then make a decision about your disability based on what you present in the hearing. The following tips can help you win your SSD hearing:
1. Hire an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney
Although any attorney can represent you at a hearing, you will want an attorney with extensive experience representing SSD applicants. Social Security is a specialized type of administrative law. The attorney you select should understand the administrative law process and be prepared to present a strong case.
Statistics indicate that SSD applicants who use an attorney are more likely to be approved for benefits. The earlier you obtain an attorney, the better. A skilled lawyer can help you prepare for the hearing and present your case in front of the ALJ.
2. Make Sure You Attend the Hearing
You will have the best chance to win your SSD case if you show up at the hearing on time. You will know about your hearing date well in advance. You should make plans for transportation and other needs so you have access to the hearing. If you are not able to attend for some reason, you should postpone your hearing. If you don’t notify the SSD and you don’t show up, your claim may be denied.
3. Appearances Matter
Although you don’t have to wear a full suit to the Social Security disability hearing, you should present yourself appropriately. Torn jeans and a dirty shirt may indicate a lack of respect to the ALJ. You should wear business casual clothing, meaning nice pants or a skirt and a nice top that is clean.
The way you present yourself matters as well. The ALJ understands that you are disabled and that it may be difficult for you to walk or otherwise present yourself. However, when speaking to the ALJ and others, use appropriate language and remain civil. You may be upset about questions that are asked, but remain calm. If you have something negative to say, wait until after the hearing and speak to your attorney privately.
4. Familiarize Yourself With Your Case and Medical Records
You have likely submitted a lot of information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in preparation for the hearing. The ALJ will ask you questions based on that documentation. It’s best if you are familiar with the information you submitted, as well as your own medical history. It can be easy to forget about certain tests and medical care you have received. You should review this information with your attorney before the hearing.
5. Don’t Minimize Your Disability
The ALJ will ask you many questions about the disability that you claim to have. It may be in your nature to pretend things are fine and to say you can take perform simple daily tasks. However, when the ALJ questions you, you should be completely honest about your medical conditions. If you have trouble bathing or walking, you should emphasize that. Do not minimize any of your symptoms or conditions.
The ALJ and others in the hearing room are not going to think poorly about you based on your inability to complete tasks. Their job is to help you. Focus on your disability and what the ALJ needs to know about your conditions.