Disability Hearing DOs and DON’Ts

A majority of Social Security claims are denied at the initial and reconsideration filing levels.  Approximately 65% of claims deny at initial, and 89% deny at reconsideration.  The good news is that if you can hold out for a disability hearing, your odds increase considerably to a 53% chance of success overall. For more information about your specific judge, please visit our statistical summaries here.  

A disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge represents a chance to communicate your conditions and functional limitations in a way that is more personalized and perhaps more clear.  Proper planning for this court appearance is vital, and there are things to communicate and things to watch when testifying at your disability hearing.

When at your hearing DO…

…answer questions in a straightforward and brief manner.

…clearly express the real limitations you experience and the frequency with which you experience them.

…be prepared to discuss the support that you require in your day-to-day life.

…discuss symptoms related to conditions, AND ALSO symptoms relating to treatment / medication prescribed for your conditions.

…discuss assistive devices that you have been prescribed and the limitations they cause.

…take mental inventory of your issues / limitations in advance of the hearing.

…consider how your issues might affect your ability to sit, stand, walk, bend, focus, concentrate, etc.

…be honest about any potentially damaging information such as substance abuse or criminal history.

When at your hearing DO NOT…

…paint a more severe picture of your conditions than supported by medical evidence.

…overstate your symptoms to the ALJ.

…be afraid to discuss your actual conditions.  Fear of acting like “a whiner” can hurt your case.

…discuss questions like, “Who would hire me?” and “How could I get to work?”.  These are real questions but do not bear on your disability hearing.

…make statements like, “I might be able to work if…”

…borrow a cane to bring to your hearing for show unless it has been prescribed or recommended by a physician.

It is always a good idea to be represented at your disability hearing.  Legal fees are only payable if you win and are paid back benefits.  O’Brien & Feiler attorneys are experienced with appearances at SSI Hearings and Disability Hearings, and will prepare you to provide optimal testimony.  Contact OBF today!

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