Successfully navigating the Social Security Disability process is oftentimes more difficult than many people realize. That’s why a significant number of claims are initially denied, and why you need to know how to navigate the system if you hope to maximize your chances of succeeding on your claim.
If you’re claim is initially denied, then you have the ability to request an additional review by a different claims examiner, but if you’re claim is still denied at that point, then you’ll have to proceed to a disability hearing if you want to continue to argue that you’re entitled to disability benefits.
What happens at a disability hearing?
A disability hearing is a judicial proceeding that is overseen by an administrative law judge. This can make the process seem less formal, especially since your case will be heard in an office or conference room rather than a courtroom. But don’t be fooled. These proceedings are just as important as those heard by a civil judge, especially since the administrative law judge has the power to grant you disability benefits.
At the hearing itself, you’ll be able to present evidence to support your claim. This evidence may come from your own testimony, but oftentimes it’s beneficial to have an expert witness who can testify on your behalf, particularly as it pertains to the details of your medical condition. In fact, studies have shown that those who have an expert testify are more likely to recover benefits. Besides, you’ll want to tailor your evidence to address the reasons for your initial claim denial, and an expert can help you do so persuasively.
Remember, too, that the administrative law judge will have already reviewed your case file and the reasons why your claim was denied by two claims examiners. Therefore, he or she may ask you and your witnesses questions during the hearing. So, be prepared for any weaknesses in your case and how to address them through a question-and-answer format, giving extra attention to your work history and any limitations that you’re currently facing.
The Social Security Administration will have the ability to call witnesses, too. Oftentimes these witnesses speak to the claimant’s medical condition and the physical and mental requirements of your profession. Therefore, you’ll want to figure out who the government is going to call to testify at your hearing so that you can develop a line of questioning to minimize the impact that their testimony will have on your case.
What happens after your disability hearing?
The administrative law judge is probably going to take the matter under advisement and issue a ruling at a later date. That decision will be mailed to you. If the administrative law judge reverses the denial of your claim, then you’ll be entitled to disability benefits. If your claim denial is upheld, though, then you’ll need to consider your next appellate steps, which includes taking the matter to the Appeals Council and, perhaps, seeking full judicial review.
Develop the strongest disability case you can early on
A lot of disability claims are denied because they are simply insufficient. This is because many individuals try to navigate the process without the help of a qualified attorney. Don’t let those circumstances lead to your claim denial. Instead, you may want to consider discussing your circumstances with a legal team that has a strong track record of success in these matters so that you can build a strong claim and maximize your chances of recovering the benefits that you need and deserve.