Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Preparation needed for disability hearings

Filing for Social Security disability benefits can seem daunting. Gathering evidence and crafting legal arguments can be challenging and tiring, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the system. Yet, despite all their hard work, many individuals who seek SSD benefits find their initial claim denied. As disheartening as that may be, these individuals should not be deterred from pursuing the matter further, as these denials can be appealed. The first step of the process is known as reconsideration, which is where the evidence presented at the initial hearing is reevaluated.

If a claim continues to be denied after reevaluation, then a claimant can seek a disability hearing. This hearing is held before an administrative law judge who will hear evidence and make yet another determination on the claim. It is important to be prepared when going into this hearing, as an official record is made that can be used on the next level of appeal should the claim be denied again.

Therefore, those who have a disability hearing need to make sure that they have all the evidence they need to thoroughly present their claim. This may include medical evidence documenting one's medical condition, treatment sought, outcomes of treatment and prognosis. It can also include testimony from medical experts, vocational experts and employers regarding how one's medical condition may affect his or her ability to work.

Although an administrative law judge may ask questions of a claimant, this isn't always the case. When a judge doesn't ask these questions, then the claimant can request to give a statement, which may be an opportunity for a disabled individual to illustrate how the medical condition has affected him or her.

Preparing for this step of the SSD appeals process can be worrisome for those who are not used to being in front of a judge questioning witnesses and submitting evidence. However, qualified legal professionals stand ready to help with this process by crafting strong legal positions and making a strong record for further appeal. Therefore, those who are pursuing SSD benefits for their disability, whether at the initial claim or appellate stage, should think about whether legal assistance would prove beneficial.

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