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How the Hearing Unfolds

Posted on January 18, 2016

The best way to prepare yourself for a hearing is to be educated on the procedure by an experienced Lake County Social Security lawyer.Man in Crutches SSD benefits

Judge’s Statement on Case History and Issues to be Decided

The Social Security disability hearing will typically begin with the judge reciting the “case history” of your disability claim and mentioning what issues must be resolved. Most judges will state the claimant’s burden of proof in his or her case but fail to specify exactly what it is.

A common explanation by the judges is that for a claimant to be found disabled for the purposes of SSD benefits, the individuals must be “unable to perform substantial gainful activity which exists in significant numbers in the economy, considering your age, education and work experience.” This erroneously conveys the notion that one must disabled to the point of being bedridden to receive SSD benefits.

Questions by the Judge and Your Lawyer

The judge will probably ask you questions first, then allow your Lake County Social Security attorney to ask you questions afterward. Your attorney may decline to ask you any questions if he feels that you are sufficiently prepared to testify.
If the judge allows your lawyer to ask most of the questions, then answer the questions as if you’re hearing them for the first time. Claimants occasionally don’t give full answers when they know their lawyer is already well informed about the case. But the judge is the one who decides the case, and he can’t know the answers unless you provide them. Judges actually read case files prior to hearings, but don’t assume the judge is thoroughly familiar with your case. Be safe and offer complete explanations.

Questioning Witnesses

Your lawyer may begin to question witnesses you brought to the hearing once you have wrapped up your testimony. You should bring at least one witness to the hearing, who should be be able to:

1. Support your account of the disability;
2. Offer new perspective on your health problems; and
3. Inform the judge about your disabilities and how you are affected by them.

When the witness testimony has concluded, any doctor or vocational expert summoned by the judge will testify.

Advice for Testifying at Your Social Security Disability Hearing

If you become nervous at the idea of testifying before a judge in a Social Security disability hearing, you are not alone. The results are important to your future, and you might want additional help as you prepare your testimony. Our Lake County Social Security lawyer can provide further advice to help ease your mind about the process.

The Conclusion of Hearing

As the hearing ends, the judge may give you an opportunity to make additional statements. This is a job best left to your lawyer, who will make a closing argument at the end of hearing or submit a written version. Only a few judges will announce a decision at the hearing, which is called a “bench decision”. The judge making a bench decision will still issue a short written decision which you and your lawyer will receive in the mail. Unlike a regular decision, a written bench decision will be made only a few days following the hearing.

If you need legal assistance with applying for SSD benefits, please call the law offices of Lake County Social Security lawyer John Paul Oreh at 216-896-0935.

Social Security Disability Library