Social Security Disability Insurance
Written by: Bruce L. Weider | 4.12.2024

How To Prepare For A Social Security Disability Hearing

You have worked hard all your life, but now you struggle with a physical or mental disability that prevents you from working. While you are entitled to financial support in the form of Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, the Social Security Administration denies many initial applications. Fortunately, there are options available to continue pursuing benefits, including scheduling a Social Security disability hearing to state your case in front of a judge. Having an experienced attorney with in-depth knowledge of the Social Security disability process can be an important asset during this process. The legal team at Bruce L. Weider, PC has spent two decades helping individuals prepare for their hearings and successfully appeal their Social Security benefits denials. To learn more about how their experienced Social Security disability lawyers can help, consider contacting them at (734) 485-0535 today.  

What Will Be Discussed at My Social Security Disability Hearing? 

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), during a Social Security Disability hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will explain the primary issues in the applicant’s case and pose questions to the applicant and any witnesses they bring to the hearing. The ALJ will already know basic information about the individual’s medical condition based on the records the applicant has provided, so their goal is to gain insight into how the disability affects the person in their day-to-day life.  

To establish this understanding, the judge will ask a series of open-ended questions about the individual’s background, their work, any medical issues they face, and the limitations they experience as a result of their condition. When preparing for these questions, it can be helpful to consider the following:  

  • How your physical and/or mental impairments impact your daily functioning: How long can you walk before needing to rest? How long can you concentrate on one task before needing a break? These time frames are important to the judge’s assessment of your limitations. 
  • The nature and duration of your symptoms: Do you suffer from headaches, and if so, how long do they last? How long do you sleep at night without disturbance? Do you struggle with any side effects caused by medication? 
  • Your history of formal educational or vocational training: Have you served in the military? What on-the-job skills did you learn throughout your career? 
  • The nature of your previous work experience over the past fifteen years: What were your job duties? Did you perform any heavy lifting? How much time did you spend sitting, standing, or walking during the workday?  
  • Your medical history: The judge will ask questions to gauge whether your testimony aligns with the information in your medical evidence. When did you first experience symptoms related to your condition? How long have you been taking medication for your disability?  
  • The activities you complete on a daily basis: Do you care for children or pets? What does your daily routine look like? 

Ultimately, every hearing is unique. Some judges ask a wide range of questions while others ask very few. Many judges appreciate clear, concise answers that reflect what is included in the applicant’s disability forms and medical records.  

What Not To Say at a Social Security Disability Hearing? 

Knowing what not to say is just as important as knowing what to include in your testimony. Some of the most common mistakes that claimants make at their hearings include the following:  

  • Exaggerating or minimizing symptoms: Be honest and accurate when describing the symptoms. The ALJ will be skilled at spotting inconsistencies, and will likely notice if someone is bending the truth when discussing the severity of their condition.  
  • Discussing irrelevant information: The judge will appreciate clarity and directness, so focus on the information that is connected to the case, including medical history, work experience, and the extent of the applicant’s limitations.  
  • Comparing their condition to others’ disabilities: The ALJ is only concerned that the claimant’s conditions meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for disability, so avoid discussing how their case compares to others. Instead, focus on the evidence and facts of the applicant’s own disability. 
  • Guessing or speculating about information: If the individual is unsure about the answer to a question, it is often better to simply state that they do not know, or that they cannot remember. Providing misleading information, even inadvertently, can damage their credibility. 

At Bruce L. Weider, PC, their team of experienced attorneys will guide you through your Social Security disability hearing and ensure that you are prepared to navigate the process with confidence and clarity. 

How Do You Explain Daily Activities at a Disability Hearing? 

The judge will likely ask many questions about the person’s daily activities to gain a better understanding of how their disability impacts their day-to-day life. When the person applying for benefits mentions an activity, they should ensure that they explain the limitations they face due to their condition, including whether anyone assists them with these activities. Consider asking, “How has this activity changed now that I struggle with a disability?” Additionally, it can be helpful to prepare a list of activities that the person previously enjoyed doing, but no longer can due to their disability.  

What Are My Chances of Winning My SSDI Hearing? 

According to data from the Social Security Administration, a significant proportion of initially denied applications receive approval at the hearing level. The hearing stage offers a higher chance of approval compared to other stages, underscoring the importance of thorough and intentional preparation.  

Often, when applications are denied at the hearing level it is because the ALJ believes that the applicant’s condition is not severe enough, or that they are able to perform types of employment other than their previous line of work. An attorney may be able to help a claimant prepare a case that highlights the severity of their condition and their inability to work as a consequence of their disability.  

Speak With an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney Today 

Preparing for a Social Security disability hearing can be stressful and overwhelming. After working hard to provide for yourself and your family, you are entitled to the protection that you paid into. At Bruce L. Weider, PC, they have spent decades fighting for the rights of individuals who were denied the Social Security disability benefits they deserve. Their team of experienced attorneys will leverage their experience to help you prepare the strongest case possible and maximize your chances of winning your SSDI hearing. To discuss your situation with their team, consider scheduling a free consultation with us at (734) 485-0535.  

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