What should a disability claimant expect when going to a Social Security disability hearing?
Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis often tells his client’s, “Do not expect it to be something you have seen on a television show.” Outlined below is a brief example of what Scott Lewis experiences when he is representing his Indiana claimants at the hearing level.
Typically, the hearings office is a rather informal office and the hearing usually takes place in a small room. As you arrive at the hearings office, you must check-in with the office and then you will take a seat until it is your turn.
If you have an attorney representing you, when he arrives the attorney will review the claimant’s file located at the Social Security office to ensure all of the exhibits he has submitted to the court have been properly placed in the file. Once you are called into the hearing room, you may see several other people in the room. This may include a medical expert, a vocational expert, a court reporter, and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The people present at the Administrative Hearing depends on the ALJ and the availability of the experts. Occasionally, the ALJ will appear on video from another location rather than physically being in the hearing office. After court formalities, you are sometimes questioned by the ALJ about your personal information and medical information concerning your disability(s). After the judge is finished questioning the claimant, he typically turns to your lawyer and asks if there are any further questions. The attorney will ask the client questions that may support his case. Once the attorney has completed questioning the client, the judge may ask the Medical Expert for his opinion of your medical records. If the Medical Expert testifies that you are in fact disabled, it is possible that the ALJ may declare a favorable decision at that very moment. However, the Medical Expert may also say you have certain restrictions because of your disabilities. At this point, usually your attorney has an opportunity to ask questions to the Medical Expert.
The ALJ will then question the Vocational Expert, with the restrictions asserted, can the claimant do past jobs or any other jobs? The Vocational Expert may say there are no jobs you can successfully perform and at that point the ALJ may find you disabled. On the other hand, the Vocational Expert may say there are jobs that you can perform. At that point, the ALJ may let the Attorney ask questions to the Vocational Expert. When necessary, the attorney attempts to get the Vocational Expert to state that there are no jobs that exist based on the restrictions and limitations you have due to your disability. At the conclusion of the hearing you may or may not know if you have been found favorable on you Social Security Disability Claim. If a decision is not made at the hearing, you will be notified by mail.
It should be emphasized the aforementioned hearing process can and usually will vary from Judge to Judge. The hearing process can be much more in depth and the process described above is only a bare framework of this procedure.
Much more goes into getting prepared for a hearing and being successful. Attorney Scott Lewis focuses on Social Security claims. Contact Scott Lewis at 317-423-8888 for more information regarding representation and the hearing process.