According to Insurance News, most Social Security Disability Insurance claimants wait up to a year or more for their first in-person hearing with an administrative law judge. It is a long period of time and most claimants have questions or question their application for disability benefits. One common question is how an individual can assist at their own SSDI hearing to make it easier to receive benefits.
The national average wait time for an SSDI hearing is about 400 days. The Social Security Administration ended fiscal 2010 year with more than 700,000 claimants waiting for a hearing on their disability benefits.
Here are a few ways you can help prepare for your SSDI hearing:
Hire a representative to assist you. Social Security’s own statistics show that disability claimants are more likely to receive benefit if they are represented than if they are unrepresented. A competent representative knows what evidence is needed to prove your case, and you probably will not know evidence is needed. You do not need money to hire a representative. Fees for work by a representative must be approved by the Social Security Administration, and the fee is generally paid from past-due benefits that you receive.
Before deciding on who you want to represent you, talk with the person who will appear at the hearing with you. Do not hire a lawyer after only talking to a Legal Assistant in the office. It is very important that you know the qualifications and expertise of the person representing you. Be sure that the lawyer plans to meet with you prior to the hearing to discuss the questions that you will be asked during the hearing.
Be there on time – The SSA will not wait on you. After you receive a letter with your hearing date, make sure you understand where the hearing will be held. Study a map, utilize internet resources such as Google Maps or program a GPS device before your scheduled meeting. Get familiar with the area and location where the meeting will be held so that you do not get lost. Always get there early in case of traffic or if you become unfamiliar with the route.
Organize your file – You may not know every detail of your file or its contents, especially if you have a representative. However, you can still familiarize yourself with what has been recorded about your medical history, work history and other relevant information. Go through your own files and copies and list down dates of doctor’s visit and relevant work history details. Work with your representative to obtain medical records and other supporting documentation well before your hearing date, do not count on the SSA to have updated medical evidence on your behalf.