We’ve talked about it time and again – most individuals that apply for Social Security disability benefits are denied on their initial application. If this has happened to you, you will need to appeal and ultimately get a Social Security disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Providing a strong testimony at your hearing will be essential to help increase your chances of being approved for disability benefits, so it’s best to go into court as prepared as possible.
How to Prepare for a Disability Hearing
When you go into a hearing, there are certain factors you’ll need to testify about regarding your disability qualifications. Some information you should be prepared to talk about includes:
- Work history
- Education, degrees, certifications, and training
- Medical conditions that have caused your disability
- Symptoms of your condition
- Limitations of daily activities due to your disability
- Medical treatments, medications, or therapies
To help you prepare for an upcoming Social Security disability hearing, we’ve gathered some important tips below.
Review Your Case File Thoroughly
Before your hearing, you can request your entire case file from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Take advantage of this! Reviewing your file as thoroughly as possible will help you prepare for any questions or arguments that may come up during your hearing. Though it may seem unnecessary, re-familiarizing yourself with the documents that will be discussed in your case is still a good idea.
Prepare (and Use!) Your Cheat Sheets
You aren’t expected to remember everything about your case! If you are representing yourself, you can bring documents about your disability, such as medical records, your application, and any important notes regarding anticipated questions. Prepare thorough notes and stay organized with your documentation to ensure the hearing goes smoothly. If you have an attorney, they will do this for you.
Obtain Recent Medical Records
Reach out to your healthcare providers to collect your most recent medical records as soon as you have a scheduled hearing and assigned judge for your case. Not only should you send these documents to the address provided before your hearing, but make sure you retain copies for yourself to bring to the hearing. This is another thing your attorney will do for you if you have one.
Gather Medical Expert’s Opinions and Statements
Written statements about your disabling condition, particularly from your primary physicians or specialists, will be one of the most important pieces of evidence during your hearing. Though these written statements are submitted with your initial disability application, you’ll want to reach out and request an updated statement highlighting any new symptoms or other information that may be relevant. Once again, if you are represented, your attorney should work with you to make this happen.
Seek Assistance from Experienced Disability Attorneys
You don’t have to go through a Social Security disability hearing alone. Working with an experienced disability lawyer can ensure that you are fully prepared for your hearing. At Woodruff & Mathis, we can help you properly file your application, work with you to gather medical evidence and statements, and attend your hearing with you.
If you need assistance preparing for your hearing, request an appointment with our attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis today!