In Georgia, anyone who becomes severely injured or disabled and is unable to work may receive Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA), however, denies more applications than they approve.
Claimants who are not approved right away are required to attend a Social Security disability hearing. A Social Security hearing is essential, as it determines whether someone receives benefits. Therefore, it is crucial to know some tips for answering questions that may be asked.
SSDI claimants often become intimidated when facing an administrative law judge (ALJ) at these disability hearings. Although speaking with a judge can be intimidating, it is important to answer as succinctly as possible. If the claimant does not understand the question, they should tell the judge that.
The ALJ may ask about specific conditions, symptoms, and locations of the disability. Instead of a claimant saying their back hurts, they should say they experience a shooting pain that travels up their back every time they bend over or that there is a constant dull ache in their lower back. This will tell the judge how the disability is affecting the claimant and will provide them with a clearer picture of the overall disability. It will also allow the ALJ to compare what a claimant is saying with known symptoms of a condition. When those match, it helps the claimant’s credibility and may lead to a positive outcome.
If a claimant stopped receiving treatment at any time, the ALJ is going to ask why. There are many reasons a person stops treatment for a condition, and an ALJ will understand most of them. Perhaps the claimant did not have insurance, or they felt better for a brief period. The reason does not matter as much as the claimant being honest about it.
At the beginning of a Social Security disability hearing, the claimant is sworn in. This means they take an oath, to tell the truth and, if they fail to do so, can be found guilty of committing perjury.
An ALJ is likely to ask a claimant how their life has changed since the onset of their disability. The answer can significantly benefit the claimant and get the judge to rule in their favor, particularly if the judge was unsure of their decision.
It is not enough for the claimant to simply say that now they are in pain all the time. Instead, they should outline what that pain prevents them from doing. For example, if it prevents them from playing with their children, gardening, spending time with their friends or even sleeping.
At the Social Security hearing, the ALJ and the vocational expert will ask extremely personal questions, as inquiries about a person’s health often are. This can be uncomfortable for many people. However, both the ALJ and the vocational expert listen to hundreds of claimants every year outline every type of illness, injury, and disability. They are simply trying to understand what the claimant is going through, so it is important not to get embarrassed by their questions.
Even with these tips, it is often difficult for claimants to understand what to expect at a Social Security disability hearing, or how to answer questions. A Social Security disability lawyer in Georgia can help prep any claimant for a hearing. This can make the claimant feel more prepared and ready to answer any question they are asked.
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