Top tips on how to put your best foot forward
If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your initial application for Social Security disability benefits (more commonly known as SSDI), you have the right to file an appeal. If your initial request is denied, then you can ask for a hearing, which will be held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
The SSDI hearing process can be nerve-wracking, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the process. However, there are several strategies that you can follow to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Read on for some tips from an experienced California social security disability lawyer.
- Hire a Disability Benefits Attorney
When you apply for SSDI benefits, you can represent yourself. However, when you go to a hearing, you will likely achieve a better outcome by hiring an attorney who is qualified in disability benefits. Your lawyer can help you in a number of ways, from helping you prepare for the hearing, to gathering evidence, drafting a brief, and questioning witnesses.
Make sure that after you hire a California social security disability lawyer, you stay in touch with him or her throughout the process. It’s important to keep them posted about your condition and anything that may have changed since you first filed.
- Put Together Your Evidence
At a SSDI hearing, the ALJ will rely on the evidence that you submitted in your original application as well as any new evidence that you have submitted. This is critical in proving that you have a disability and that your disability prevents you from working.
While waiting for your hearing, you should start to gather evidence such as medical records from your treating physician and other providers. You may also ask friends, family members and colleagues about how your disability has affected you and your ability to work.
While you have hopefully hired a California social security disability lawyer to help you get ready for your hearing, remember that this case is about you, your disability, and your ability to work. Before the hearing, you should be studying your case to become familiar with it. This includes your medical records.
Going over your file will help you become familiar with the documents that will be presented to the ALJ. This will help you testify accurately. It may also alert you to any documents or other evidence that may be missing from your file that may be important to proving your case.
- Be Honest About How Your Disability Impacts Your Life
At the hearing, it may be tempting to downplay the extent of your disability. This is a time when it is important to not be stoic. It isn’t weak to talk about how your condition affects you — the ALJ needs this information in order to make an accurate decision about your case.
You should not lie or exaggerate your medical history. Be truthful, but do not spare any details. Instead, talk about how your diagnosis has prevented you from doing the things you used to do, including work.
- Be Respectful
Finally, it is important that you show that you respect the ALJ and the process. This can mean a number of things. You should show up on time or early to the hearing. Be clean and well-groomed, and dressed appropriately.
While you may get frustrated during the hearing, speak civilly in response to any questions that are asked. Remain calm and be polite, keeping in mind that it is the ALJ who will make the decision in your case.
Although being approved for SSDI benefits can be challenging, following these tips can help to increase your chances if your case goes to a hearing. If you are considering applying for SSDI benefits, PLBSH can help. Contact our firm today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation with a California social security disability lawyer.