What happens at a Social Security disability hearing?

You prepare for a disability case by making sure everything that needs to be done to win your case has been done.

Generally, to prepare for a disability case you must submit all relevant medical evidence within the very strict time frames for evidence submission, understand all the law, regulations, and rules that apply to the facts of your specific case. Then, you must create legal arguments that will apply the facts and medical evidence of your case to the applicable laws to explain why you are entitled to disability under the law.

The Social Security Administration provides some basic information about hearings before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in its hearing notice paperwork. However, this information is very limited and typically noted the time and place of hearing and what experts may be present at the hearing.

To someone that has never been in an administrative hearing procedure, the hearing process can be confusing and cause anxiety. Social Security disability hearings are very different than traffic or general civil court hearings. The more you can learn about the process, the more confident and prepared you’ll be. Below are two things that at a minimum you should do prior to the hearing.

Collect all of your recent and relevant older Medical Evidence and submit the evidence to the OHO where your case is being processed

The ALJ will want to see your most recent medical records and any older records that apply to your case. Collecting medical records can take months so start early. Collect all your most recent doctors’ notes, treatment information, etc., as well as recent medical evaluations completed by physicians. Once you have collected all your medical evidence, you must submit the evidence to the local OHO (Office of Hearing Operations) where your case is being handled. The Social Security Administration has a very firm 5-day rule that requires all medical evidence to be submitted at least 5 days before the hearing. You can also tell the court about medical evidence that you have not yet received, but that must be submitted 5 days before the hearing as well. An ALJ is not required to consider medical evidence submitted less than 5 days before a hearing. If you don’t get your medical evidence submitted timely, there may not be any evidence for the ALJ to consider to prove you are disabled.

Develop a detailed theory explaining why your specific medical records and evidence require the ALJ to pay your claim.

ALJ’s use a 5 step sequential evaluation process to determine if you are disabled. Those steps look at whether you are working above SGA, whether you have a medically determinable severe impairment, whether you meet a Listing, whether you can do your past relevant work, whether you qualify for disability under the medical vocational guidelines or whether your medical impairments preclude your ability to perform any job at SGA within the national economy.

Do you need an attorney?

Preparing for a disability hearing should make you ask a very serious question – do I know enough to win my case? If you are not very familiar with how to collect and submit medical records and how each step of the Sequential Evaluation Process works – how can you possibly make the correct arguments needed to win your case? The honest answer is you probably can’t. If you are preparing for a hearing and find yourself lost or overwhelmed, we are here to help. Call Chad Brown Law today at (336) 962-5373 and let us prepare your case so you can make the arguments you need to win.

Our firm focuses on three practice areas: Disability, Personal Injury, and Eminent Domain. Every practice area has attorneys who have expertise in their respective area of practice. 

Chad Brown is a North Carolina Board Certified Social Security disability law specialist. Mr. Brown helps Social Security disability claimants at all stages of the disability process. He also works with people that have Long Term Disability denials and with people that are injured by drugs and defective medical products.

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