You could end up waiting more than a year for your Social Security disability hearing, so you want to make sure you’re well prepared. From showing up on time and taking care of your appearance to making sure you know how to answer the questions that will be asked of you, there are many things you can do to get ready. Here are eight tips for how to win a Social Security disability hearing.
1. Show up on time.
The first tip is simply to show up. As with most court appearances, if you don’t show up, you lose. Be there on time, or better yet, early. Don’t take chances with the weather or traffic. Plan on being there early so that you’ll still make it on time if something goes wrong.
2. Dress appropriately.
You don’t necessarily have to wear your best suit, but you should definitely dress for the occasion. If you don’t have dress pants, a skirt or dress, you may be able to get by with a nice pair of jeans and a sport coat or sweater. Just keep in mind that your attire shows your respect—or lack of respect—for the court, and that impacts how the judge thinks of you.
3. Hire a good disability attorney.
While it is possible to represent yourself, you’ll improve your chances of winning your disability hearing if you hire an experienced disability attorney. Don’t use just any attorney. You need someone who does disability hearings all the time. They will know from experience what the judge wants, and that works in your favor.
4. Submit updated medical records no later than five business days before your hearing date.
The judge will want to see your medical records, so make sure they are up to date and as accurate as possible. Your medical records are the main piece of evidence showing what your disability is and how it affects your ability to work.
5. Submit an RFC form.
A Residual Functional Capacity form answers questions about your health and your disability. There are two types: physical and mental. The physical RFC form answers questions such as how much weight you can lift and how long you can sit or stand. The mental RFC form answers questions about your ability to follow instructions, interact with people, and perform other mental tasks. These are also due five business days before your hearing date.
6. Be prepared to answer questions.
Having the judge ask questions about your disability can be nerve-wracking, so you should talk to your lawyer about what you are likely to be asked and how you should respond. Practicing can make it easier. Remember to answer all questions honestly and succinctly. Don’t ramble on. Get to the point quickly.
7. Have a reason for gaps in medical coverage.
If you didn’t go to the doctor at all for a period of time, you need to be prepared to explain why. Did your insurance lapse? Or perhaps your symptoms got better for a while and then got worse again. Whatever the reason, an honest answer is always the best one.
8. Be ready to explain negative items.
If you have a history of addiction, an arrest record or other things that could hurt your credibility, these matters could come up in questioning. Be prepared to answer those questions honestly.
Contact the Attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis
Following these tips can help you win your disability hearing, but don’t forget that the most important tip is to hire a good disability attorney and follow his or her advice. At Woodruff & Mathis, our attorney can provide you with even more suggestions and initiatives for how to win your Social Security disability hearing. To request an appointment with us, please fill out the form here.