This post is from disability attorney Michael Packard of the San Antonio-based disability law firm, the Packard Law Firm.
Winning Social Security Disability benefits is no easy task. If your application for benefits was denied, your best chance to have that decision overturned is at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Before you go to your hearing, make sure you’re fully prepared. Here are five tips to help you get ready for your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
1. MAKE SURE YOU TELL YOUR STORY
You know you can’t work – make sure you can explain this to the judge. For example, are there specific activities that give you issues at work? Maybe you have difficulty sitting or standing for long periods. Or maybe doing things with your hands is painful.
It can also be issues that aren’t physical like difficulty concentrating on detailed tasks. It’s important you know your physical and mental limits that make it hard for you to work. Be sure all of your health issues are listed in your application before going to your hearing.
2. ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR EVIDENCE AND DOCUMENTS
Your evidence is the most important part of your case. You must have all your medical records, working history and other important documents ready to present at your disability hearing. The Social Security Administration must have all the information associated with your case to make an informed decision. The more evidence you can gather on your medical condition, the better off you are.
3. DOUBLE CHECK SOCIAL SECURITY’S WORK
It’s not uncommon for the Social Security Administration to make mistakes. As a big government agency, they sometimes lose documents or don’t keep track of everything. If possible, ask for something in writing to confirm the SSA has all of the documents in your case.
4. TELL YOUR DOCTORS ALL OF YOUR MEDICAL ISSUES
Explain to your doctors everything that limits you physical and/or mentally. If your medical condition ever changes, it’s important you share this information with your doctors. The more you tell your doctors, the better informed they are to make a diagnosis and to document your conditions.
5. GET HELP FROM A DISABILITY ATTORNEY
According to Social Security’s own statistics, you’re more likely to win your case if you’re represented by a disability attorney. While you can go to your hearing alone, you don’t have to. An experienced disability attorney can help gather your evidence, talk with your doctors and present your case before an Administrative Law Judge. The Social Security Administration has more information on disability representation on their website at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/representation/.
Winning Social Security Disability benefits can be challenging. If you were denied, being prepared to appeal to an Administrative Law Judge can make the difference in reversing the decision.