How To Prepare for a Social Security Disability Hearing
Has your claim for Social Security Disability benefits been denied? If so, your best bet would be to file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial letter. Once you file an appeal, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be scheduled for you. Most claimants have the best chance of getting their claim approved at the hearing level, so preparing for your hearing is critical. Below are some tips for preparing for your Social Security Disability hearing. Review Your Denial Letter The denial letter you get from Social Security will include a list of all of the medical records that were used to make the decision. Go over the list to make sure that all of your medical records were reviewed. If you feel that some important records are missing from the list, obtain copies of those records, so you can take them to your hearing. You should obtain two copies: one to send to the ALJ and one to take with you to the hearing. If you have a Social Security Disability attorney, he should have copies of the records, as well. In addition, the denial letter will explain specifically why your claim was denied. Examine Social Security's rationale behind the decision to determine what sort of evidence you need to come up with at the hearing in order to get your claim approved this time around. Get Letters from Your Doctors Ask doctors who have treated you to write letters explaining how your medical condition interferes with your ability to work. While these letters alone won't make or break the ALJ's decision, they'll serve as supporting evidence that demonstrates how your medical condition affects your ability to perform job-related tasks. Prepare Specific Explanations of Your Ability to Perform Job-Related Tasks When testifying before an ALJ, it's essential to be as specific as possible about your ability to perform various job-related tasks, such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, and stooping. For example, rather than saying, “I can't sit for extended periods,” say, “I can't sit for longer than one hour because I start to experience excruciating lower back pain.” Get a Statement from a Non-Medical Source If you have a spouse, caregiver, sibling, parent, child, friend, or neighbor who is aware of how your disability has impacted your life, consider getting a statement from that person and adding it to your claim file before the hearing. Prior to the case, the ALJ will review the forms and records in your claim file. Statements from non-medical sources that are familiar with your condition often serve as a powerful form of evidence in your favor. Hire an experienced Social Security Disability Attorney The majority of claimants don't hire a Social Security Disability attorney when they file their initial claim, but they may decide to hire an attorney represent them at the hearing level to maximize their chances of winning their case. If your initial Social Security Disability claim was denied and you would like help filing an appeal and preparing for your hearing, please call 800.883.7043 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free evaluation.