Hill & Ponton, P.A.

Video Blog – SS – Day of the Hearing

Natalia Jofre: Hello and welcome to Hill and Ponton Social Security Disability Blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, the Social Security Section Director here at our firm.
Shelly Mark: And I am Shelly Mark. I’m the Senior Social Security Attorney with the firm.
Natalia Jofre: So the last couple of blogs we’ve been talking about the different claims levels, and then we talked about the hearing level and what happens before the hearing, and now today we’re going to talk about what actually happens at the hearing. First, I think we should talk a little bit about scheduling because people get very thrown off. We had talked about when you get that letter it doesn’t mean you’re going to get a hearing in 65 days. Then when they actually schedule it you normally have about two or three months worth of notice, right?
Shelly Mark: Right, that’s correct.
Natalia Jofre: All right. Then comes the actual day of the hearing, and that’s when the magic happens. So what can they expect? I know that people see Law and Order and stuff like that on TV and …
Shelly Mark: And it’s definitely not that. Unfortunately, it’s not that exciting. But it is a really important day obviously. You know, people have been waiting a very long time. It’s always really important to be prepared, to know where you’re going, and make sure that you arrive at least 30 minutes early for your hearing. It’s never a bad idea, if you have a lot of anxiety, to drive it before your hearing, just to know where you’re going so that you feel more comfortable driving there the day of, especially if you have a lot of anxiety or something like that.
But the only thing that you’re going to need to bring with you is a photo ID. You receive some forms from social security asking you to bring your medications and all your medical records. As long as they’re represented, at least our clients, of course, all of that’s done for them. So they just really need a photo ID. There will be a security guard there that they’re going to sign in with, and there are private meetings rooms there so we meet with our clients 30 minutes prior to the hearing to go over everything again, answer any last-minute questions, and then again to just try to get people to be at ease about the process.
Natalia Jofre: Yeah, because they do get there and they’re a little nervous, right? Generally.
Shelly Mark: Yes.
Natalia Jofre: Another biggie, leave your cell phone in the car, right?
Shelly Mark: Yes.
Natalia Jofre: Oh, in this age of cell phones, boy do a lot of people have to go back to their cars.
Shelly Mark: I tell people, bring a book or something if you can’t sit still for that long.
Natalia Jofre: Yeah, because sometimes the hearings run long or the judge has a delay or whatever, so you could just be sitting in that lobby.
Shelly Mark: Right. You definitely could. The hearing itself usually lasts about 45 minutes on average, and then again after the hearing, I like to sit with the clients again after the hearing for 10, 15 minutes to go over how everything went and then answer any questions that they have. Our goal is to make sure when they leave there that day that they understood what happened, and they understand procedurally what happened, and then also kind of how we feel about how the judge viewed their case.
Natalia Jofre: Oh, yeah.
Shelly Mark: But we do not get a decision the day of the hearing. That is something that clients do expect. We try to make sure we tell them at the pre-hearing conference, it is about 5% of the time that we may get a decision the day of a hearing. But I always tell clients, “Please do not expect that.”
Natalia Jofre: Yeah, because it’s not the norm.
Shelly Mark: No, it is definitely not the norm at all.
Natalia Jofre: And it’s really frustrating for people because they feel like, I’ve been waiting for this day 36 months now, normally by the time they get there, and they’re like, “What do you mean the judge isn’t going [inaudible 00:03:48] a decision?” It’s not the time to be snide or snippy or make comments about that either. This person’s going to basically decide your livelihood, so …
Shelly Mark: That is another thing people ask about is, does the judge make the decision on their own? And that is, yes, the judge takes into account the medical records, everything in the file, and of course all the testimony of the client.
Natalia Jofre: Then in terms of how they get dressed, because we’ve seen people are like, “Oh, I’m going to court, I’m going to dress up today.” But then that’s not normally how they would present themselves.
Shelly Mark: Right. A kind of rule of thumb that I advise clients is to dress comfortably. There’s no reason to overdress. There’s also no reason to underdress. But you know, wear what you would wear if you were going to a doctor’s appointment or you were going to dinner with your family or something like that.
Natalia Jofre: That’s a good guideline.
Shelly Mark: Yeah.
Natalia Jofre: So not over and not under, right? You also want to look appropriate.
Shelly Mark: Right. No graphic tees or …
Natalia Jofre: Yeah, no graphic tees, that’s a good tidbit. Okay, great. Well, there’s other people in the hearing room. We’re going to be talking about them so that you can further understand the dynamic the day of the hearing. We’ll talk about that in our next blog. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to visit our website or call our office. Thank you for joining us.
Shelly Mark: Thank you.