December 5, 2016

Should I Be Nervous About My Social Security Disability Hearing?

Clients often tell me they are very nervous and anxious about their upcoming Social security Disability Insurance/Supplemental Security Income hearing. It is pretty easy to understand why.  Some people have never been to a hearing and others are so worried about the outcome they cannot even sleep the night before the hearing date.  Hopefully, this blog will shed a little light on what the atmosphere is at a Social Security disability hearing.

 

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These hearings are considered informal. What that means is there are usually not any strict trial rules and the atmosphere is not that of a criminal or civil trial.  Many Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) will let you know that at the very beginning of the hearing.  Although I say it is informal, interrupting others may not be in your best interest and waiting your turn to answer questions may be advisable.  Most hearings have a predictable pattern and if you have an attorney or representative they can usually tell you what that pattern is.  I try to prepare my clients for each individual ALJ that will hear their case.  Different Judges think different things are important.  I believe it is helpful to make things easy for your Judge by being prepared and sticking to what they are interested in.  It would be a rare occasion that making a Judge angry would benefit you in any way.  Don’t get me wrong, all of your information needs to be presented, but as I said it should be done in a manner the court will respect and listen to.  In my experience, most hearings last around forty-five minutes to one hour.  Of course this can vary depending on the complexity of the case and each individual Judge.

 

Being nervous is normal and should be expected when the stakes are so high. Chances are you and your family are struggling to make ends meet because of a disabling condition that has made you lose your ability to earn money.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Judges should know that, but at times it may seem like they do not care.  They are looking at strict rules and guidelines to determine disability and sometimes human emotion can get lost in the shuffle.  The good news is once you find yourself in front of an Administrative Law Judge you will finally be face to face with another person. This is your opportunity to let him/her know how your disabling condition is impacting your life both physically and mentally.  Many of my clients find themselves crying before, during, and after a hearing is over.  This claims process can be long, confusing, and emotionally draining.

 

Being prepared for your disability appeal hearing can take away some anxiety. I try to prepare my clients for what to expect at a hearing.  If you know the atmosphere you will be entering and the types of questions you will be asked it may alleviate some of the stress that comes naturally with this type of environment.  If I do not represent you, I urge you to research or ask your representative what your day in court will be like.  Having questions answered early may reduce some anxiety during what can be a very lengthy wait for a Social Security disability hearing.

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