If you have requested a hearing before a judge regarding Social Security disability benefits, you may be imagining yourself in a courtroom with a jury, judge, and spectators all watching. In reality, though, what happens at an Alpharetta Social Security Disability hearing is not at all like a dramatic civil or criminal trial.
Though the proceedings themselves may lack drama, the results could nevertheless have a dramatic impact on your life. As such, representation from a dedicated Social Security disability lawyer may be key to achieving a successful outcome.
Unlike judges in trial courts, who are typically elected officials, administrative law judges are former attorneys familiar with practicing in an administrative environment. Because they work only in the area of SSA law, many administrative law judges understand the subject matter discussed in the hearings better than a court judge who handles a wide variety of legal issues. Administrative law judges may ask more questions than a trial court judge would and may give the proceedings a less formal demeanor.
Unlike the big courtrooms seen on TV, the rooms used for administrative hearings may be quite small, particularly if the hearing is held in a temporary location. Sometimes, for example, the SSA holds hearings by video conference rather than in-person. This is often because video hearings could be held in locations more convenient for the applicant.
Often, those who are not on a witness list or not serving as a designated representative are not allowed in the hearing room. Though the venue is small and the procedures less formal, it is still important to follow proper procedures, however.
After introductions and a brief statement of the case, the administrative law judge may immediately begin asking questions about the applicant and their disability. It is wise to have answers prepared ahead of time to be ready to make the most of this opportunity.
Through questioning, the judge is not seeking to directly challenge the applicant’s claim but rather to gain a full understanding of their medical condition and how it affects their life. It is important to answer the judge as accurately as possible so as not to inadvertently contradict evidence in the medical record or evidence presented by witnesses. Exaggerations could make an unfavorable impression on the judge.
In many hearings, the applicant may have an attorney or other representative speak on their behalf or ask questions after the judge has questioned them. Experienced legal counsel will know how to present evidence or ask questions in a way that brings key information to light.
An attorney may also question medical or vocational experts regarding the applicant’s medical condition and level of disability. The goal is to provide sufficient information to demonstrate to the judge that the applicant’s condition constitutes a qualifying disability and that the applicant should, therefore, receive disability benefits.
To make the best possible case at a Social Security disability hearing in Alpharetta, it is wise to prepare both a written record and oral responses for questioning. Applicants often choose to work an experienced attorney both in preparation for the hearing and during the hearing itself.
The results of the hearing will generally not be known for some time. Even if the judge issues a bench decision, it is still necessary to wait to receive written notification of their ruling before taking further action.
If the request for benefits is denied by the administrative law judge, it is possible to seek reconsideration or a review by the Social Security Administration Appeals Council. After that, a claimant may file suit in federal court. Further information about what happens at an Alpharetta Social Security disability hearing may be available by consulting a seasoned attorney at an experienced social security disability law firm.
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