Social Security Disability Hearings
By Nicholas Wearne, Associate Attorney
If you appeal a denial for social security benefits you will eventually end up at a hearing. Clients often get very nervous for the hearing and ask me what they are going to be like. When a hearing is scheduled in your case it will be at one of the social security hearing offices. You are expected to arrive early and check in with security. When the judge is ready for you a hearing monitor will come find you in the waiting room and take you back to the hearing room.
The first thing the judge will do is swear you in. It is expected that you will tell the truth at all times during your hearing. If you are unrepresented the judge will then ask you questions about your situation and why it is you feel you are disabled. The judge may also ask questions about your past work, about your medical treatment, and about your current work restrictions. If you have an attorney with you the judge will also allow your attorney to ask questions and to make an argument regarding why he/she believe you are disabled.
In some hearings a vocational expert is present. A vocational expert is basically a job expert. The judge will ask the vocational expert questions. The questions are usually posed as a hypothetical. A question might be posed as follows… If I (The Judge) were to adopt the work restrictions as outlined by John Doe’s doctor, would John be able to perform his past work or any other work in the national economy? The judge may in fact ask a range of hypotheticals. If you have an attorney present, the judge will then turn the time over to your attorney to ask the vocational expert some questions. It is not common in any of the hearings I do but you can occasionally have witnesses such as family members and doctors testify as well.
All together the hearing normally lasts about one hour. An audio recording is made of the hearing for later reference and both the judge and the hearing monitor who originally came to get you will take notes throughout the hearing process. You do not normally get a decision at the end of the hearing but have to wait for several months for a written decision from the judge. On occasion, the judge will let you know at the end of the hearing what he or she is going to do.
If you have a hearing scheduled, or have been denied and would like to appeal your case up to the hearing level, contact Snow Carpio and Weekley for a free consultation.