If your disability benefits claim is denied, you have the option of appealing against it for reconsideration. If the appeal is also rejected, your claim goes to a social security disability hearing.
A hearing is an opportunity for you to show how disabling your condition is. It also lets an administrative law judge (ALJ) examine your condition and your claim firsthand. The judge then makes a final decision as to whether or not your claim qualifies for the disability benefits.
A disability hearing is quite unlike regular court hearings. It does not take place in a court; instead a small conference room is usually the venue. The hearing is also closed to the general public so that only you and your Greenville, SC social security disability attorney will be allowed to attend it. If you have any friends or family members accompanying you, they will have to wait outside.
Nearly all disability hearings follow a similar pattern, although the exact proceedings may vary from case to case. Here are the general things you should expect at this hearing.
The Start of the Proceedings
A social security disability hearing typically starts at the designated hour after all the relevant parties have arrived. If an important individual, such as a medical expert, is not present, the hearing may be delayed or postponed. Once all relevant persons have arrived, the judge identifies everyone in the room. This is to give you and others an idea of who is who.
In most hearings, the persons present include the claimant, the attorney representing the claimant, the judge, one or more experts, and a judge’s assistant. When presiding over a hearing, a judge is usually dressed in regular attire and not in the formal judge’s robes.
Once all the parties are present and the judge initiates the proceedings, a basic statement is read. This statement summarizes your disability benefits claim, focusing mainly on the facts of the case.
The Judge Questions You
Once the basic facts of your case have been stated by the judge, he or she begins to question you directly. This is the most important part of the hearing. The judge will ask you questions about your medical problems, education, employment history, the limitations caused by the medical problems, and more.
It is important to respond to these questions honestly. You don’t need to exaggerate but it is equally important to make sure you are as detailed in your responses as possible. When possible, stick to the facts and be thorough. You don’t want to leave out any symptoms or limitations that are caused by the disability.
Your Attorney Supports You
Once the judge is done questioning you, your attorney is given a chance to represent you. At this point, the attorney may present arguments in favor of your claim or start to question you. You can pre-arrange the questions with your attorney. Qualified SC disability lawyers know how to ask the right questions to make sure all the important facts supporting your claim are brought in front of the court.
The Experts Testify
Once you and your attorney have laid out your claim in front of the judge, the experts are asked to testify. These may include both medical experts and vocational experts. Medical experts provide their advice on how serious and disabling your medical condition is. Vocational experts explain whether or not your condition prevents you from undertaking regular employment.
The Judge Concludes
After the experts have testified, the judge may ask you a few more questions. You are also given another opportunity to speak if you have something to say. Then the judge concludes the hearing.
A decision in a disability hearing isn’t pronounced immediately in most cases. You will typically receive a by-mail verdict within 3 to 4 weeks of the hearing.
Traditional Social Security Disability Hearing vs. Video Disability Hearing
If you are somehow indisposed to attend the hearing in-person, you can also opt for a video disability hearing. You can choose from both options when seeking a hearing. A video hearing offers some advantages – you may be able to get a hearing sooner compared to the regular hearing. Video hearings take place at designated venues, and you may also be able to select a venue that’s close to your home.
Hiring SC Disability Lawyers for Your Social Security Disability Hearing
When you attend a disability hearing, it is critically important to have a good attorney by your side. Here at J. Robert Surface law firm, our SC disability lawyers can help you prepare for a hearing and improve your odds of a positive outcome. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.