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How to Win at Your Disability Hearing

By January 8, 2021February 25th, 20216 min read

Unfortunately, having your application for Disability benefits get denied by the Social Security Administration is common. If you are denied, you have the right to appeal this decision.

There are several levels of appeal. You have 60 days from the date you receive your denial to submit your request for reconsideration. If you are denied again after reconsideration, you can file your appeal to have a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At this stage, it’s important to prepare for your hearing diligently and put your best foot forward to increase your chances of getting your Disability claim approved. Read on for helpful tips on how to win a Social Security Disability hearing!

How to Win Disability Reonsideration

If you are going through the Disability appeals process, you’ll want to follow these strategies to ensure the best chances of winning your Disability claim!

Hire an Experienced SSD Attorney

Strongly consider hiring an experienced SSD attorney to represent you at your Disability hearing. It’s likely that you only have one shot at winning your Disability appeal. SSD attorneys have years of experience dealing with the Disability appeals procedure and ALJs that can strengthen your case. An SSD attorney can guide you through the process smoothly from application to (hopefully) approved claim.

SSD requires adherence to strict timelines, rules and regulations. An attorney can help you stay on top of everything, helping you avoid any errors while giving you time to concentrate on more important things like your testimony.

Stay Calm

Don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Disability hearings are more relaxed court proceedings, and they usually last between 45 minutes and an hour. The portion of the hearing in which you’ll testify rarely takes more than 30 minutes. Social Security Administration does not send someone to question you. Most of the questions that you answer will come from your own attorney!

Keep in mind that your SSD hearing is about the subject matter that you know best— your disability and how it affects your daily life! The better you know yourself and your situation, the more likely you are to win your Disability appeal. The best thing that you can do before making your case to the ALJ is prepare mentally. The more you prepare, the more confident you will be. Remember, the ALJs have seen and heard just about everything when it comes to disability cases, so there is no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed! They are not judging you or your life.

Don’t Ramble

Under pressure, many of us are prone to ramble. When you are asked questions at your Disability hearing, try your best to stay focused and on topic. Rambling on will only cause the ALJ to lose interest and miss important information that you’re sharing. In a worst-case scenario, the ALJ may get annoyed with you for wasting his or her time, or interrupt you.

Practice answering questions with your attorney ahead of time so that you know exactly what to expect and how to keep your answer concise and to-the-point. If at any point you notice your response has gone on too long, stop, take a deep breath and continue with a re-focused answer.

Be Descriptive

It’s important that your answers are as specific and descriptive as possible to give your ALJ a clear picture of how your impairment affects your daily life. Your ALJ wants to know that your symptoms are consistent with the recognized symptoms of your medical condition and that your answers are honest and credible.

When your ALJ asks you to describe your disability and limitations, use specific examples of how your impairment limits you and descriptive words to illustrate your pain. Be sure to precisely describe the intensity of discomfort or mental strain in various situations, the location of your pain (if applicable) and how your disability affects your routine.

For example, if you are asked to describe your symptoms, don’t just say: “I can’t go one day without being in lots of pain.” Instead, say: “I suffer pain on a daily basis. Although the intensity of the pain varies throughout the day, performing normal tasks like showering and getting dressed makes my knee pain unbearable. After any physical activity, I have to sit down and rest for 10-15 minutes, and even then, the pain doesn’t go away completely.”

If you rely on help from others because of your condition, make sure the ALJ knows that, too. Consider asking a friend or family member who is well-acquainted with your situation to write a letter to the judge or be a witness for you at the hearing.

Prepare to Explain Medical Gaps

If you have periods of time in which you received little or no medical treatment, be prepared for your ALJ to question these gaps in care. Address your medical gaps with honesty and confidence to underscore your credibility. For example, if you didn’t see a doctor for three years because you didn’t have insurance, or your symptoms improved so you stopped getting treatment for your disability, tell the judge that.

Be Transparent

Winning your SSD hearing requires complete honesty. ALJs are very experienced in assessing credibility and truth. Do not exaggerate your disability or withhold the challenges your disability causes you. Provide clear and insightful answers to each question you are asked.

Present Yourself Professionally

Be sure to present yourself in a professional manner. Your appearance and demeanor are just as important as your testimony! A suit isn’t necessary, but you should dress appropriately and appear clean and well-groomed. Be respectful and polite throughout your SSD hearing. If you are frustrated at any point, do not express frustration and reiterate your position calmly with respect.