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What to expect at your SSDI benefits hearing

If you receive a denial of your application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you are far from alone. In fact, the Social Security Administration denies as many as 66% of first-time applications for benefits. Fortunately, a denial is probably not the end of the road for you.

There is a four-level appeals process you can go through to secure the SSDI benefits you deserve. The first step, a request for reconsideration, involves having a different SSA officer review your application. The second is a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The hearing is usually brief

While attending any hearing before a judge can be stressful, the hearing usually only lasts about an hour. Still, you typically must appear in person for the hearing, although your judge may schedule a telephonic one or use videoconferencing software. Because the hearing is not public, you probably cannot bring anyone with you other than your attorney into the hearing room.

You may have to testify

While there are exceptions, you should expect to testify at your benefits hearing. The judge is likely to ask you questions about your work history and your disability. Therefore, you should plan to answer the following:

  • What is your work history?
  • When did you develop your disability?
  • How does your disability affect your ability to work?
  • What treatments are you undergoing?
  • What medications are you taking?

You can provide additional information

Before you walk into your hearing, you may have a good idea why the SSA officer denied your initial application and request for reconsideration. Consequently, you may need to prepare additional evidence about your work history, disability or other relevant matters. The judge is likely to consider any information you provide when making his or her decision.

Because many SSDI applicants who receive initial denials secure approval at an ALJ hearing, you must take the hearing seriously. Put simply, any effort you put into preparing for the hearing is likely to benefit you.