Who’s Involved with your Disability Hearing?

Woman wearing a neck brace

When you’ve made it to your Social Security Disability Insurance hearing date, you may feel like you’re at the finish line in your quest for receiving the benefits for your disability. But in this next step toward benefits, there are people and processes to know regarding your hearing. 

A Social Security hearing is perhaps more subdued than you might expect. Instead of a courtroom filled with a jury, witnesses, staff, and attorneys, your hearing will only be comprised of you, your attorney, a vocational expert, the court stenographer, and the judge. 

How do you prepare for your hearing? What do you need to know and say? Who will be there, and what will their jobs be? 

The Vocational Expert

Social Security Disability Insurance determinations aren’t only about your medical issues. The key to receiving benefits is to make the connection between your disabilities and your inability to work. The vocational expert is the person in the hearing who analyzes how your medical records show the impact your disability has on your ability to work.

First, they’ll classify your relevant former jobs to determine if you’re able to do that type of work now, after your medical conditions have caused a disability. If they’ve determined that you can no longer do that job, they’ll assess whether or not you have transferable skills to do other types of work. They’ll answer a series of hypothetical questions at this point to assess whether you can still perform your prior job with your current medical conditions. If the judge determines that you can, your benefits will be denied. 

The judge will then ask additional hypothetical questions to see if you can perform other jobs with the skills you have, and they will provide alternative jobs that you may be able to do. At this point your attorney can ask additional questions to show that you can no longer work. Your attorney works for you, and because of the medical evidence regarding your condition, they are working on your behalf to win benefits for you. Their questions to the vocational expert will be to show that you can no longer work. 

 The Social Security Administration asks vocational experts to explain and answer questions that the judge or your attorney may have about how certain mental or physical limitations affect your ability to work. The vocational expert isn’t there to make a determination on your case, even though that’s frequently what people think. Actually, their opinion in no way determines the outcome of the case. Only the judge makes the decision. The vocational expert simply provides additional expert-witness testimony. 

If you don’t have an attorney, we are here to help. We offer our clients free case evaluations to see if we can help you win your case with the medical evidence provided, and we’re only paid if we win benefits for you and your family. 

The Judge and Your Attorney

Your judge sees many disability cases a year. With your attorney by your side, you are much more likely to win your case. Your attorney knows what to expect. In fact, a local attorney will most likely know what to expect specifically from each judge. This strengthens your case because your attorney will work hard to make sure the right details of your case are included based on what they know each judge needs to see in a successful case. 

The judge is the sole decision maker in your hearing. They will issue a written decision after studying all the evidence presented by you, any witnesses, and the vocational expert. 

Tips for your Hearing:

  1. Don’t cancel your hearing unless it is absolutely necessary. It’s important that you meet your date so as not to further delay the entire process. 
  2. Make sure that any new or updated medical evidence is submitted to the court at least five days before your hearing date. New evidence may even result in an early favorable decision for you, meaning the hearing may not be necessary at all. If a hearing is necessary, it will eliminate the delays caused when additional evidence has not yet been received.
  3. Notify the SSA of any changes to your address or contact information as soon as possible before the hearing. 
  4. Be on time. Meet with your attorney beforehand to go over any last minute changes. 
  5. Present yourself in the best way possible. Although it’s not a formal affair, you should dress appropriately. 

Why Have an Attorney? 

Your case will be taken more seriously by the SSA and the judge on your case.
A local attorney knows the “ins-and-outs” of the system.
You won’t omit valuable information that can help you win your benefits.
They’ll represent you in a hearing and will help you prepare your statement.
You won’t miss deadlines for filing important documents and appeals
They’re only paid if you win your claim.
It brings peace of mind to know you have a legal team looking out for you.
You’re more likely to win benefits with legal representation.

Here at Affleck & Gordon, our commitment to our clients sets us apart from attorneys in general practice. We specialize in winning SSI and SSDI for you, and we care about you and your success. 

Let us help you today. 

If your Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.

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