When your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is denied, you have the right to appeal and have a hearing. It is important that you exercise this right to appeal, since you may depend on SSDI benefits after being injured on the job.
Like many California residents, you may have never attended an SSDI appeal hearing before, and it is important to prepare properly.
How the hearing works
The appeal hearing is held before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ makes their decision based on your testimony and the evidence you present at the hearing.
Be prepared to provide basic information about yourself and your background, such as your education, training and work history. Additionally, you will need to answer questions about your injury or medical condition that caused you to become disabled and how they have affected your daily life.
Request your file
Have your evidence organized and ready before your appeal hearing. As part of the hearing process, you should be given a file. If you are not, request it from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).
Your file should contain your application, medical records and any other documents related to your case. Review them carefully.
Obtain your most recent medical records. It is important to make sure the ALJ has a copy of your most current records, since the records initially provided with your application may no longer reflect your current medical status.
In addition to records, a letter from your doctor pertaining to your specific situation is strong evidence. The letter should detail your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work.
Why current information is important
As with the medical records, request a new letter from your doctor, even if they provided one when you filed your application. A fair amount of time may elapse between your application and appeal hearing, so the ALJ will want the most up to date information.
You can have an attorney attend your hearing with you. A Social Security disability attorney can help you gather evidence, provide it to the SSA and guide you through your hearing.