Expert witnesses may be summoned in a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearing to testify about medical issues, vocational matters, or other aspects that affect a claimant’s eligibility for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) often summons experts to present evidence at hearings, and many claimants wonder whether they should bring in their own experts.
Every SSDI hearing is unique, and the need for experts will vary according to individual circumstances. A knowledgeable Social Security Disability law firm can help prepare you to make the most of your opportunity to claim benefits.
The types of expert witnesses that are summoned for an SSDI hearing in Atlanta will correspond with the issues contested in the case. For example, if the claimant and the SSA disagree about the severity of a medical condition or how an impairment affects the claimant’s ability to perform various functions, a medical expert could provide a qualified opinion based on the record of evidence.
A medical expert could be a physician or mental health professional. Although an expert brought in to testify is supposed to be impartial, if they are summoned by the SSA, they may be more likely to support the agency’s initial decision to deny benefits. The claimant should be prepared to cross-examine the expert and exploit any weaknesses in the agency’s reasoning for denying benefits.
A great majority of SSDI hearings in Atlanta include vocational experts who present information about the skills needed to perform certain jobs and the availability of employment. Generally, a vocational expert may assert that the applicant is qualified and able to perform available jobs and is therefore not eligible for disability benefits.
Unless the claimant’s medical impairment is featured on the SSA’s list of qualifying impairments, the vocational expert’s opinions often form the basis for the agency’s decision on whether to grant benefits. An applicant should anticipate the expert’s testimony and have questions prepared for cross-examination in order to refute any unfavorable assertions.
Expert witnesses are frequently brought into a case to testify about the general situation rather than specific information about what a claimant has done in the past or could do in the future. Therefore, the testimony provided by an expert witness addressing vocational issues at an Atlanta SSDI hearing often comes in the form of hypothetical questions.
The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may describe a fictional person with a particular condition and then ask the expert witness if that person could perform any available jobs. A hearing claims advocate from our firm can pose additional hypothetical questions that reflect favorably on the applicant.
Skillful cross-examination of expert witnesses at an Atlanta SSDI hearing can help undermine the SSA’s denial of benefits. Therefore, preparing for the testimony of expert witnesses can help you receive an award of benefits.
It is important to be aware that unless properly challenged, expert testimony will often hurt your case rather than help it. Accordingly, it is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney in preparation for a disability hearing.