What is a Disability Hearing Actually Like?

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disability hearing

It is one thing to read about an event, trial, or legal proceeding. Yet, it is a much different thing to actually experience the event first hand.  If you played a sport as a child, do you remember how different it was to watch a game on TV compared to actually standing on the field? Well, that is precisely how it can be with legal proceedings, like a disability hearing before the Social Security Administration (SSA).  

In fact, many trial lawyers have gotten into the habit, whenever possible, of bringing their clients to a courtroom so they can at least experience what it will feel like to be in the room when they need to testify in connection with their case. It is that kind of first-hand feeling that helps put someone at ease when they are asked to be in unfamiliar circumstances.  

Accordingly, in this article, we are going to do our best to describe precisely how it is to be in the hearing room when you have your Social Security disability hearing appeal heard by a judge. Of course, this is still just an article and not a guided tour, but it will at least give you a flavor of what you can expect once you do walk into the hearing room for your disability hearing. 

If, after reviewing this article, you have additional questions about vocational expert services in general, we invite you to contact us at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. – OAS.   

We are one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.

Where Are You In the Process When You Have a Disability Hearing?

The first thing to recognize is what part does a Social Security disability hearing play in your overall effort to obtain disability benefits.  

Normally, you first apply online, by phone, or by mail for disability benefits from the SSA. It is fairly common for your disability application to be initially denied. You then need to move to the next step.

Ultimately, you may get denied to the point in which you can file an appeal for disability benefits and be given a hearing on your case. That is where the disability hearing comes into play.

What is significant about the Social Security disability hearing is that it is that stage of the process when an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) – the judge who will render a decision in your case – will first be able to meet you in person. It is the time when the ALJ will be able to take everything that he or she has read about you – including medical records, previous requests for disability benefits, and other evidence – and actually hear from you about your life, your disability, and your needs.  

So, now let’s talk about how the disability hearing before the ALJ is conducted.

First, You Get to Testify

The first order of business in a disability hearing with the SSA is that you get to testify about your life, your inability to work, and your overall disability. It is not common that your hearing will take place in a courtroom, but your testimony will be conducted in a fashion similar to how it looks in those courtroom dramas on TV.

You will typically have an attorney who will ask you questions to establish your disability and your eligibility for benefits. It is possible that an attorney or other representative of the SSA will ask you questions, which might suggest that you do not suffer from a disability that allows for benefits. Finally, the ALJ may take the opportunity to ask you a question or two as well.

Next up, the Vocational Expert

After you have testified, a person who provides vocational expert services will be called to testify. This vocational expert will have been hired by the government, the SSA. Further, the vocational expert will likely not be someone you have ever met before.  

The vocational expert’s job is to look at your case from a work standpoint. He or she is not necessarily looking for jobs that you can do, but rather, the vocational expert will testify about whether you might be able to work, given your physical condition, in a hypothetical job market.  

Essentially, the vocational expert will have analyzed all of your medical evidence, and other documentation, including your work performance, dating back about 15 years.  Then the vocational expert will testify, in light of your medical condition, about whether you can perform those jobs you have had in the past. Such considerations would include whether you can meet certain job requirements, whether you can lift a certain weight, and whether you have a certain level of skill.   

What might seem confusing is that the vocational expert will be asked “hypothetical” questions.  Those are “what if” type questions, such as “would someone with the claimant’s physical injuries be able to do a job that requires frequent lifting of boxes 25 pounds or more?”  Thus, the questions are essentially about you, but the hypothetical-form of the question is necessary because the vocational expert is providing an expert opinion, not necessarily testifying about you specifically.  

In sum, the vocational expert’s job is to educate the ALJ as to what the job market looks like for someone with your physical limitations, and whether you would be able to maintain substantially gainful employment.  

At the end of the ALJ’s questions, your lawyer might be able to ask a few additional questions, but that normally ends the hearing.  Then, you just need to wait for the ALJ’s decision.

OAS – The Vocational Experts You Can Rely On

The experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience documenting the income potential and employment capacity of those with wrongful termination cases, as well as with the underemployed, unemployed, and disabled spouses in many types of cases

OAS specializes in working with the plaintiff or defense attorney to assist in objectively documenting the economics in a case. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the vocational assessment of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented. 

We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services for Plaintiff and Defense attorneys. 

The company specializes in assisting attorneys in evaluating earning capacity in divorce cases and documenting the damages in cases where an individual has been severely injured by providing objective findings on how the injuries affect a persons’ ability to work and earn money, as well as the cost of care required in catastrophic injuries.

OAS is your Vocational Expert & Life Care Planner Nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.  

Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. is one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.