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Social Security Disability Attorneys Understanding Disability Hearings

What Happens at a SSD Hearing?

The first opportunity that you ever have in the disability application process to directly interact with the decision maker in your case is at your disability hearing. Knowing how your hearing will be conducted can help you make sure that you have asked the right questions to prepare yourself for your case. Disability hearings are conducted by hearing officers employed by the Social Security Administration. They wear black robes and are addressed as "Your Honor." Unlike a typical Court proceeding however they hearings are conducted in a something closer to a conference room.

Disability hearings will involve the following issues:

  • The judge who will sit at the end of the room;
  • A clerk who will operate the recording equipment;
  • The claimant (person applying for benefits);
  • Claimant's attorney
  • Vocational Expert (in most but not all cases)

Examining Some of the Questions that You May be Asked

There is no opposing counsel or jury. Generally observers not related to your case will not be in attendance. The hearing will begin with the judge reviewing the case briefly with your lawyer and asking if there are any objections to anything contained in the agency's file or to the qualifications of the vocational expert. Typically there are not any objections. The judge will then begin the proceeding by reading, or having the clerk to read, basic information about the claim application into the record. Depending on the preferences of your judge they will either begin questioning you or ask your lawyer to question you. The types of questions you will be asked will depend on your work history and the reasons why you are asking for disability.

Typical questions include the following:

  • Who do you live with?
  • Who does the housework?
  • Can you get dressed by yourself?
  • Do you drive?
  • When did you stop working?
  • Have you tried to work since then?
  • What do you do in a typical day?
  • How long can you stand up before you are in significant pain?
  • How does taking your medications make you fell?
  • Are you doing better or worse since your last medical procedure?

The Importance of Providing Accurate Information

It is important to answer all of the questions put forth to you as clearly and accurately as you can. Once your lawyer and the judge are finished questioning you the judge may turn to the Vocational Expert if available. A vocational expert is someone who is knowledgeable about how jobs that you have held before are typically performed and what types of limitations someone with your work history, education and impairments may have in the workplace. Generally disability hearings take about 30 minutes. In most cases the judge does not announce a decision. You will be notified in 30-90 days of the judge's decision in writing.

Representation for Your Disability Hearing in Columbia, SC

The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, represents clients in and around Columbia, Newberry and Orangeburg Counties with their Social Security Disability claims.

If you have been denied benefits and need help with reconsideration or at a hearing, or just have questions about the claims process, contact our office at (803) 359-3301.

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