Post about "Diseases"

What It’s Like at a Disability Hearing – How to Prepare Yourself

You’ve waited a long time but finally, your Social Security disability hearing has been scheduled. With wait-time statistics for 2010 averaging 442 days, more than likely, you have waited at least a year for this important day. Now that it’s here, what will it be like? And how can you prepare yourself for your meeting with the judge?The Judge Wants to Know about YouYour Social Security disability attorney has probably told you that your hearing could very well be your last chance to prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you deserve disability benefits. If you’re nervous, that’s quite understandable. But keep in mind that your Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is very interested in meeting with you face-to-face so that he or she can get a clear picture about you and your medical disability. After all, the ALJ’s job is to make sure that you are given a fair decision.The Setting for your Disability HearingMaybe you were expecting that your hearing would be held in a big, intimidating court room and you would be sitting in a witness stand with the judge towering over you. The setting is nothing like this. Social Security disability hearings are usually held in small conference rooms, and you and your disability attorney will be seated at a table facing the judge. The judge may also have a hearing assistant present to take notes or record the proceedings. You can have a few witnesses there too, though they cannot speak for you. How should you dress? Be neat but be yourself. This is not a dressed up business meeting. In fact, the hearing is a very informal event.What the Judge Wants to Know about YouThe purpose of the hearing is for the judge to get a full understanding of why you can’t work. Remember, to be approved for disability benefits you must be unable to do any kind of work. So even if you can’t perform the duties of the job you once did, the judge will consider if you have other work skills or if you can learn something new. Your work capabilities and how your medical disability impacts the way you function throughout your day are key factors that influence the decision.The Judge’s Questions – Stay True to YourselfIt would be a good idea to take some time and review your case before you go to your hearing, paying close attention to what your doctors have said about your condition. There may be something in your medical records that the judge will want to ask you about.Also, since your hearing is about proving to the judge that you have a medical disability, you don’t want to mask how you’re feeling when you meet. If the judge asks, “How are you today?” you surely don’t want to say, “I’m just fine.” Just try to stay focused on the judge’s questions. Keep your answers as direct as possible. Be truthful. Don’t exaggerate. And if you can’t remember something, just say so.You will have time before the hearing to go over things with your Social Security disability attorney. You will be briefed some more on what to expect and how to handle questions. Even if you feel nervous, try to take it in stride.The Hearing DecisionA Social Security disability hearing actually shouldn’t take that long. It may only take 20 minutes or, at most, an hour. But, you may not know right away if you’re approved. It is extremely rare to get a decision right then and there, which is called a bench decision. So, unfortunately, you’ll probably have to wait another two to four months before you know if you are approved for your disability benefits. Hopefully, the judge’s decision will be what you’ve been waiting for.