For most Social Security disability benefits applicants, a favorable decision from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) does not come until the third stage of the application process. The SSA frequently denies initial applications. Applicants can then make a request for reconsideration, but the SSA rarely sides with applicants at this second stage. Once the SSA denies an applicant’s request for reconsideration, the applicant can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). This is the stage where applicants usually have their best opportunity to convince the SSA that they should be receiving disability benefits.
At hearings with ALJs, there will be several parties present in addition to you, the applicant. There will be the ALJ, your lawyer, a reporter who records the hearing, often medical and vocational experts and any witnesses that you wish to call. Applicants are able to represent themselves at this stage, but that rarely turns out well for them. Applicants with an attorney achieve success at this stage at a rate 50 percent higher than that of applicants who represent themselves.
The hearing will often begin with the ALJ giving a brief overview of your case. Next, either you will be able to make an opening statement, or the questioning will begin. The ALJ or your attorney will be doing the questioning. This part starts off with basic information like name and address, and then progresses into important information like job history, job duties and physical capabilities. The ALJ will often solicit testimony from a medical and/or vocation expert to learn more facts about your condition and your work capabilities.
The order in which the witnesses and questioning goes varies from judge to judge and from office to office, but the overall purpose is the same – the ALJ is trying to assess your credibility and determine what, if any, work you are capable of performing. A Tulsa OK SSI attorney can help applicants prepare for this stage and feel at ease during the ALJ hearing. How did you prepare going into your hearing in front of an administrative law judge?
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers