What Role Does a Lawyer Play at a Disability Hearing?
Posted on behalf of Dayes Law Firm PC on Jan 27, 2020 in Appeals
If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies reconsideration for your disability claim, the next step is to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At this stage, an experienced disability attorney could be an important asset to your claim.
Learn why hiring a disability lawyer is beneficial before your hearing begins. If you need assistance with your disability claim denial, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team today.
Questioning Medical or Vocational Experts
The SSA may bring in a medical expert to testify at your hearing regarding your disability and its severity. This expert reviews all the medical evidence pertaining to your claim and delivers a professional opinion as to whether or not your disability meets the criteria defined by the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.
This listing details the requirements that must be met in order for the SSA to find you disabled. The medical expert must say your disability meets all requirements or your disability is equivalent to a disability listing for you to receive benefits.
During a hearing, your attorney is able to cross-examine the medical expert. Your disability lawyer works to ensure that the expert considers your own doctor’s opinions and available medical evidence, and that the medical expert’s interpretation of the disability requirements is correct. Your lawyer may object to questioning by the ALJ or even request continuation so that medical expert testimony can be obtained and added to your claim.
Vocational experts testify as to whether or not your disability stops you from performing the same types of work you have previously done as well as any other types of work. As a vocational expert is questioned by the ALJ, your attorney has the same right to object. He or she may also cross-examine the expert.
Gathering Medical Opinions From Your Treating Physician
Due to SSA regulations, ALJs typically have higher regard for the medical opinions from the doctor who treats your disability higher than any medical opinions presented by other health care workers. As such, your doctor’s professional opinions regarding your disability and treatment will be considered at your hearing.
In order to prepare for your disability hearing, evidence pertaining to your disability and treatment must be obtained from your doctor. A lawyer is able to best assist your doctor in compiling full and complete information because he or she has a thorough understanding of the SSA’s requirements to prove disability.
Often times, experienced disability attorneys are prepared with questions and information requests in order to gather all the information that an ALJ will look for during your hearing. Your lawyer also helps your doctor create official letters and other documentation needed for your hearing, including the use of proper legal terminology.
Familiarity With Local ALJs in Your Area
Sometimes, there are just a few ALJs in a particular area of the country – a disability attorney who practices in your area is going to be familiar with the different ALJs that could potentially be assigned to your hearing.
Knowing the local ALJs is an advantage to you in that your attorney is able to better prepare you for the hearing. He or she knows the preferences, reputations and habits of the local ALJs and is able to prepare the case and present it in a light that is more favorable for the particular ALJ on the bench.
Your attorney also may be aware if a particular ALJ has a tendency to skip asking certain important questions during a hearing. Thanks to the lawyer’s familiarity with the local ALJs, he or she is able to ensure all information critical to your claim is entered into record, regardless of questioning.
When You Should Hire a Disability Attorney
As soon as you receive written notice of denial of reconsideration from the SSA, it is time to hire a disability lawyer. You have 60 days to submit a Request for Hearing upon receipt of your denial of reconsideration.
Contact Our Disability Attorneys for Help
Get the representation you need by contacting our Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys from Dayes Law Firm. We have helped many claimants at disability hearings.
Request a free consultation today to learn how our law firm may be able to assist with your disability claim. There are no upfront fees and payment is only owed if we recover compensation on your behalf.