Many claimants are understandably nervous about attending a disability benefits hearing for SSDI & SSI. There is a lot at stake, and it can be intimidating going in front of a Judge. This article will give you a brief overview of the hearing process, and some tips on how to be successful. We also present a video of an example hearing, so you can see what one is really like.
Getting Your Hearing Started Right
The first step is arriving at the hearing location on time. If you miss your hearing, it could take months to reschedule or worse, the Judge can dismiss your case entirely and you will have to start over with a new application. Make sure that you have a reliable ride, that you know the address, and give yourself enough time to account for traffic, bad weather, and parking. You must also bring a valid form of identification with you, as you will be required to pass through security when entering the hearing location.
Inside the Hearing Room (It’s Not Like a TV Courtroom Drama)
Hearings are typically held in relatively small rooms, which look more like conference rooms than courtrooms. Usually, the only people in the room are the Judge and his or her assistant, your representative, and any witnesses who might testify. Witnesses can include anyone you have brought along to testify on your behalf, such as your doctor, social worker, friends, or family. Other witnesses can include vocational experts or medical experts that have been called to testify by the Judge. The hearings can last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or more.
Testimony, Questions, and Answers
The most important part of the hearing is your testimony. One of the main functions of the hearing is to allow the Judge to see and hear from you directly about how your conditions affect your day to day activities and ability to work. Both the Judge and your representative will have the opportunity to ask you questions. Many claimants are nervous about this aspect of the hearing process, but you shouldn’t be. This is your chance to tell your story to the Judge, in your own words. The advocates at Citizens Disability will spend as much time as you need going over your testimony before the hearing so that you are fully prepared and comfortable with the questions you might be asked.
After The Hearing
Judges typically do not make a decision to award or deny the claim at the conclusion of the hearing. In most cases, there is a period of several weeks or months following the hearing during which the Judge considers the evidence and testimony given at the hearing. While it can be difficult to wait for a final decision on your claim, this post-hearing period also affords your advocate the opportunity to gather additional evidence and even draft legal briefs addressing issues which may have arisen at the hearing.
Once the Judge has considered all of the evidence, testimony, and legal arguments submitted by your representative, a final decision on your claim will be sent in the mail within 2 to 3 months of the hearing.
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About Citizens Disability, LLC:
Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call (800)492-3260.