What to Expect at an ALJ Hearing.

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Your hearing has finally been scheduled!

What should you expect and how to prepare?

It has probably been close to one year (the average wait time for hearing in 2013 is 378 day) since you filed your appeal for a hearing with Social Security.  Now that the wait is over, how are you going to prepare for a final decision?  Clearly Social Security has made it nearly impossible to approve your claim due to their strict disability approval policy.  Hopefully this information will get you prepared for your hearing.

An Administrative Law Judge or ALJ is interested in understanding your side of the story.  The initial decisions were based off of medical findings to determine your eligibility, and now the ALJ wants to hear it from you.  If you’re feeling nervous that’s perfectly normal as this could be your last chance to prove your case.  Remember the ALJ already has the material evidence to your case and needs to understand your side of the story.  The best you can do is be prepared for different questions.

By working with Hill and Ponton, you will be at a great advantage by understanding each question prior to the hearing.  Your case manager and attorney have been working simultaneously in preparing your case through adjudication.  He or she will be able to guide you through the questions to become better prepared.  The judge may ask about your education, past jobs, daily activities, physical, and mental limitations that prevent you from working.  Answering questions truthfully will help the judge understand you are disabled and unable to work, therefore approving your claim for benefits.

Most people get the wrong idea of how an administrative hearing works.  We see on television shows how dramatic they make it and think yours will be the same way.  This is incorrect. A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is a closed hearing, which means there is no one there who does not have a say in your claim.  The hearing may only take 20 minutes and should never last more than an hour.  Most likely you’ll be in a small conference room, and you’ll be sitting together at a table.  It will be you, your Hill and Ponton attorney, the judge, an assistant to the judge, and either a vocational expert or a medical expert or sometimes both. Your disability story must come directly from you. Relax, be yourself, and answer the questions truthfully.

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