Facing the Administrative Law Judge
The Administrative Law Judge at Social Security Disability Hearing
People who were denied Social Security disability benefits have the right to appeal the decision and request a hearing. An administrative law judge presides over the hearing and decides if you should receive disability benefits based on the evidence presented. The hearing is informal and non-adversarial, but you should be thoroughly prepared to answer questions and effectively address different aspects of your case.
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Duties of the Administrative Law Judge
The judge renders an independent decision regarding whether you are entitled to obtain disability benefits. The judge carefully reviews the case to determine if you successfully fulfill the “disability” criteria. Previous denials of your claim don’t influence the judge’s decision. In fact, most claimants who appear at the hearing get their disability claims approved.
You can provide additional documentation to the judge that will support your case. If an attorney is representing you, he can present persuasive arguments that show why you should receive disability benefits. You will also have an opportunity to speak directly with the judge regarding your medical condition and the inability to work.
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How to Handle Questions Asked by the Administrative Law Judge
The judge should be treated with courtesy and respect during the hearing. You will either be asked questions or given the chance to share any information that is pertinent to the case. The judge won’t cross-examine you, but will ask questions in order to find out facts about the case.
Answer the judge’s questions clearly and honestly. If you don’t understand the judge’s question, ask him to rephrase the question or explain it to you. Provide specific details about your symptoms and the limitations imposed by the medical condition. Your attorney will likely prepare you for the type of questions that will be asked.
The administrative judge understands the difficulties associated with the appellate system. Applying for Social Security benefits is a time-consuming and cumbersome process. The judge determines the strengths and weaknesses of your case, so it is essential to present relevant documents and compelling testimony in order to improve your chances of getting approved for benefits.
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