You finally get a hearing date and are anxious about what will happen at the hearing and what can be done to give you the best chance of winning. Who will be there? What should I say? These and other questions often come to mind when your hearing is set.
The hearing is typically held in a conference room and is not open to the public. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) presides over the hearing and he/she will make the decision in your case. Each ALJ conducts their hearings a little differently but in general will ask questions about your past work, your medical conditions, your limitations and daily activities. Most ALJs will begin the hearing by asking the claimant questions. Then, if you have an attorney, the attorney will have an opportunity to ask the claimant questions. These questions can be critical to paint an accurate picture of the claimant’s situation and clear up any issues that may have arisen during the ALJ’s questioning. If you don’t have an attorney when your hearing is scheduled I would encourage you to contact one as soon as possible as I believe it is critical to have an experienced attorney representing you at the hearing and preparing you for the hearing.
The advice I give to every client that I prepare for a hearing is to listen to the ALJ’s question and answer just that question. In other words if the ALJ asks “how old are you?” your response should be your current age and nothing else. We are not trying to hide anything from the ALJ but often when people are nervous they have a tendency to run on with their responses and are quickly talking about something that is irrelevant to the hearing and has nothing to do with the ALJ’s question. A local experienced attorney can prepare you for how the ALJ assigned to your case will question you.
What can an attorney do to give you the best chance of winning your case?
-make sure all updated medical records have been submitted
-personally meet with you and thoroughly prepare you for the hearing. This includes going over the types of questions that will asked, potential problems in the record, what to wear, how to conduct yourself and many other important items.
-submit a pre-hearing or post-hearing brief on critical legal and evidentiary issues
-advocate on your behalf by knowing the evidence and the specific law applicable to the case
-address any post hearing issues promptly to avoid delays
The hearing is usually a claimant’s best chance in the process to be successful in getting benefits. Preparation is key!
Part 4 of the series will deal with the ALJ’s decision. I have handled thousands of SSD/SSI cases in Mobile and Baldwin County and would be happy to talk with you about your case. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no fee unless benefits are recovered. Call today to schedule an appointment in our Mobile or Baldwin County offices. 1-251-455-5819. Get an attorney with experience handling cases out of the Mobile Social Security office.
Randy Walton February 16, 2016
The Alabama State Bar requires the following disclaimer: No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services provided by other lawyers.