Preparing for a Hearing in Front of an ALJ

by | May 21, 2016 | Lawyer

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long and complicated process.  Many people who apply for disability benefits will find themselves in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ.  This article will help readers prepare for this critical step in the legal process.

According to, around eighty-five percent of all Social Security Disability applications in Ohio are denied.  The next step after denial is to appeal this decision.  At this point, a second representative at Social Security will review your claim and make a decision.  In Ohio, about ninety percent of appeals are denied.  If your appeal is denied, you have the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  Decisions made by the ALJ are binding, so it is critical that you come to the hearing prepared.

So what should you expect at a hearing with an ALJ?  Expect them to ask you for current medical records.  It can take months in between initially filing a claim and appearing in front of an ALJ.  They will want recent information from your doctor that shows you are still disabled. Showing up with old, outdated information is a great way to be denied your Social Security disability benefits.

At the hearing – Show up for the hearing dressed as you would for any court date.  ALJ’s are real judges, and should be treated as such.  A bad first impression with the judge can be a mistake that costs you your case.  Hearings usually last around forty-five minutes to an hour.  During the hearing, the judge will review all evidence including current medical documentation.  A vocational expert may be present to give an opinion about your ability to work.  The ALJ will ask you several questions about your physical limitations, and any current medications.  You may also bring a witness to testify about your limitations they have witnessed firsthand.  After the hearing, the ALJ will consider all of the evidence and make a decision.

Due to the high rate of denial for Social Security disability benefits in Ohio, if you apply for benefits the chances are great that you will appear before an ALJ.  This hearing is critical for those who wish to receive benefits.  To make sure the hearing goes well, you should consider enlisting the help of a legal professional. Disability lawyers are familiar with the process, documentation required, and the right questions and responses to provide for a positive outcome.

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