How to Win a Disability Appeals Hearing
When your next step on the path toward greater financial stability and less stress is a hearing with a Social Security Disability administrative law judge (ALJ), you want to approach the situation carefully.
You can’t control what the ALJ will do. But by avoiding mistakes and preparing a thorough disability claim, you can improve your chances of overturning your disability denial and winning benefits.
Monthly disability checks and Medicare health coverage would be such a relief when you can’t work.
Social Security runs its own legal system with its own rules, so work with a disability lawyer who has extensive experience with this process—especially disability appeals hearings. You don’t pay an attorney fee until you win benefits.
You can find such a lawyer at Levine Benjamin Law Firm, which has been helping people with health and financial problems in Detroit, Toledo, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids and all across Michigan for over 50 years.
From applying to appealing, we help you every step of the way.
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Tips for Succeeding in a Social Security Disability Appeals Hearing
For the best chance of being awarded Social Security Disability benefits in a hearing with disability judge, follow this advice:
- Submit New Evidence First. Before you go into your hearing, update Social Security on your health problems. Add new records to your file of the medical treatment you’ve received since your initial application.
- File a Pre-Hearing Brief. Give Social Security an updated summary of your disability claim.
- Dress Neatly. You don’t have to dress formally. But you need to appear clean, tidy and respectful to the ALJ.
- Speak Honestly, Don’t Exaggerate. When you’re answering the judge’s questions, provide facts and don’t overstate your problems. If the judge notices any conflicting information in your case, it could hurt your chances.
- Don’t Sugar-Coat It, Either. At the same time, don’t shy away from explaining just how hard your health problems are and how difficult they make it for you to work. In a regular conversation, you might hold back because you don’t want to sound too negative. This is the place to be blunt.
- Don’t Worry if You Can’t Remember Every Detail. You’re not expected to memorize every fact about your case, like dates of every doctor’s appointment or dosages of every prescription. When you’re living with serious health problems, people understand these things can become a blur. Your disability lawyer is there to help with the details.
- Prepare to Ask Questions of Your Own. Social Security may call a medical expert or vocational expert to testify about your health problems and how they affect your work. These witnesses can hurt your chances of approval, but you also get a chance to ask them questions that improve your case.
- Get Representation. One government report found that people who brought representatives to their hearings—and didn’t try to do it alone—were almost three times more likely to be awarded benefits.
A great way to start preparing for your hearing is to get a free evaluation of your claim from the experienced disability lawyers at Levine Benjamin.
Don’t wait too long. You have 60 days from when you received your last denial to ask for a hearing with a judge.
What to Expect in Your Disability Appeal Hearing
While Social Security has its own courts and judges for deciding who gets disability benefits, going to your hearing isn’t like a courtroom scene in a movie or TV show.
This is what typically happens in a Social Security Disability hearing:
- A small number of people are there: You, your disability attorney, the judge, possibly an assistant for the judge and maybe a vocational or medical expert.
- It’s private: Members of the public can’t go watch, like they can with a regular trial in a court.
- It’s informal: The hearing is mostly a conversation between a few people, not like a formal ceremony.
- It starts with procedural talk: First your lawyer and the judge will discuss steps in the process and information in your file. Then the hearing switches to questions for you and testimony from experts.
- It’s short: Disability hearings are usually less than one hour. Sometimes they can be 10 to 15 minutes.
Sometimes the judge will let you know what he or she is going to decide about your disability benefits, sometimes not. Either way, you’ll get official notice of their decision in the mail later.
If the judge denies your benefits, you still have more chances to appeal. A Levine Benjamin lawyer can stay by your side every step of the way.
We want to see you reach a better financial future.