Many people who apply for Social Security disability are denied at the initial application level – especially without a lawyer advocating on their behalf. If you’ve been turned down for disability benefits and are faced with a condition that leaves you unable to work, the next step is to have an attorney file what’s called a Request for Hearing before an administrative law judge.
The idea of a disability hearing might seem overwhelming and complicated. This blog outlines the steps you can take to ensure you are fully prepared to make your case at the disability hearing and ultimately secure the benefits you need to support yourself.
- Understand Your Disability Claim
It’s important that you know your claim inside and out before you go before the disability hearing. That means making sure your attorney has all of the communication you’ve received from the Social Security Administration, including letters and emails. If you’ve spoken to officials on the phone, jot down notes from every conversation. Review all of your documents and notes frequently to ensure they make sense to you – and that you haven’t overlooked anything. The disability hearing judge wants as much information as possible before making a decision.
An attorney can access these documents and explain each of them to you. Don’t forget to include medical records, which is addressed further below.
- Keep Good Notes and Stay Organized
Along with gathering the proper documents and records, keep notes along the way. Review them and bring them with you to your hearing. Organize your documents, including any paperwork you have filled out, including copies of your disability application.
Make sure you take additional notes that include possible questions you might be asked, as well as accurate, thoughtful responses, so you don’t forget any details when the judge starts his or her inquiry.
Having the assistance of an experienced disability attorney to review and organize these records on your behalf will allow you time to focus on your testimony during the disability hearing. Your attorney should schedule a meeting with you shortly before your disability hearing in order to go over what types of questions to expect from the Judge and to discuss the best way to present your case, based on strengths and weaknesses of your case.
- Gather Medical Records
Your ability to provide timely and accurate medical documentation to the Social Security Administration can make the difference between winning your disability claim or losing it. The judge, before approving or denying any disability claim, will want to review thorough medical records first.
If you don’t have sufficient medical evidence, your case will likely come down to the result of a brief examination by a physician contracted by SSA. When that happens, claims are often denied. Your disability attorney can obtain medical records on your behalf well before your hearing, which saves you time and stress.
An attorney can request medical records from your providers and submit them to Social Security on your behalf. An attorney will also review your records and be sure to point out the parts that best support your claim for disability.
- Secure Expert Opinions
A statement from your primary care doctor or other medical provider will go a long way in getting your disability claim approved. Your doctor also can complete a Residential Functional Capacity form, which outlines how your disability, including pain, may cause physical and mental limitations that affect your ability to have a job of any kind.
You also may want to ask friends, family members, and former colleagues to provide written testimony before the disability hearing as to how your condition has negatively changed your life and left you unable to work.
Having an attorney who can request and submit all expert and witness statements to the judge on your behalf can help make the process less overwhelming for you. An experienced disability attorney knows what questions need to be asked of your provider based on the type of disabling condition(s) you have.
- Seek Help From a Top Disability Lawyer
Hiring a disability attorney is the best way to ensure your appeal hearing is a success. Keep in mind, disability lawyers don’t get paid if you lose your case. If you win, they are only paid from a percentage of your back pay and no more than $6,000. It’s a low-risk move that is crucial to take if you want to secure disability benefits from the SSA.
The Social Security Disability attorney at Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O. will advocate for your right to disability benefits. Our team will serve as both your partner and your voice during the entire claims process. We work directly with physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure they are setting you up for success every step of the way. Call us today at 402-234-8787. You also can share your story here.
About Watson & Carroll
Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., is not a high-volume law firm that only speaks with clients when it is absolutely necessary. For us, it’s personal. Our team works closely with our clients and their loved ones – not only so that we understand their challenges and concerns, but so we can tailor our approach to address those factors, aggressively pursue results, and secure peace of mind. Whether it is a workers’ compensation case, a personal injury claim, a medical malpractice case, or advocating for disability benefits, we work to protect our clients and make sure their rights are upheld.
Our firm can help. Call 402-234-8787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can fill out our confidential form here.