|Natalia Jofre:||Hello and welcome to Hill & Ponton’s social security disability blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, our social security section director.|
|Shelly Mark:||And I am Shelly Mark, I am our senior social security attorney at the firm.|
|Natalia Jofre:||So in our last blog we were talking about the hearing day. So you’ve waited all this time to get your hearing, now you actually go to the hearing. We talked about how you should dress, what you should do, what you can expect that day. Now we’re gonna talk about when you’re in the actual hearing per se.|
|So when you go into the room, I mean what is it like? Can you describe to them a little bit about what it’s like?|
|Shelly Mark:||Sure. You’re not going into a courtroom, a large courtroom. You’re going to go into a smaller type room and you will be seated. The attorney will be seated next to you. The judge will be across the room on a podium and there will be two side tables, one of which is gonna have a court reporter who’s going to be obviously keeping everything on record, should you need that in the future. And then there’s also the possibility that there may be a vocational expert and also a medical expert, which I think we’ll probably get into those on another point.|
|When we go into the hearing you do have to be sworn in, so the judge will ask all the parties to swear in. And then from that point, we will begin taking testimony. The majority of the testimony is going to be about age, education, past work, why you stopped working, and then why you haven’t been able to go back to work.|
|Clients always ask me, “Why aren’t you gonna answer for me?”|
|Natalia Jofre:||Yeah Shelly, why aren’t you gonna answer for them?|
|Shelly Mark:||And the reality is I can’t. These questions are gonna be directed to the client either by myself, from myself or from the judge. And they are gonna have to answer on their own.|
|Natalia Jofre:||When you … I mean because then it kind of begs the question, what is your role there? You can perhaps like direct the questioning, or if you feel as though the judge has gone down a line of questioning that may showcase an unfavorable light on some of their answers, you could maybe sometimes ask questions that would counter that, right?|
|Shelly Mark:||Absolutely. The variances in these hearings are very minimal, but the biggest one is whether the judge is going to ask the client the questions directly or whether the judge is going to let the attorney do that. Obviously as the client’s attorney, if I’m allowed to ask the questions I’m gonna ask them in a way that I know prevents the case in the most favorable light. If the judge is the one that does the direct questioning of the client I get to question the client after. And so that’s when I’ll be doing any clarification or covering anything that the judge did not cover, or trying to … Whatever it is. In a lot of cases, the judge may focus on something that I find to be irrelevant, so I may need to ask some questions to clarify that it’s not really as important as it came across.|
|And of course we’re there as the client’s advocate, so if they don’t understand a question or they need to take a break. Anything like that they can always turn to us for assistance.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Okay great, so that’s helpful to understand. And then you can also argue law right? Like you can say, “This person is disabled because they meet this listing or that ruling or because of this combination of factors they should be found disabled.” Or whatever.|
|Shelly Mark:||Exactly. The judge is gonna expect us to, as attorneys, to come in with a theory of our case. So it does have to be based on the law. So we will, in our hearing memo and in all of our argument letters or anything that we submit throughout the file, we’re going to be presenting those legal arguments. But we will be presenting them again the day of the hearing.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Okay great. Well, next blog I think we’ll talk about then these other experts that can be present at your hearing. They’ve become pretty prevalent so we’ll talk about those. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to visit our website or call our office, otherwise thanks for joining us.|
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