When a claim for Social Security disability benefits is denied, the applicant has a right to appeal that decision. The final stage of the appeals process is an administrative hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The judge’s final decision will be based on the medical evidence the applicant has submitted.
It’s important for the applicant to go into their Social Security Administration disability benefits hearing fully prepared to provide the ALJ with all the information they may require to make a favorable decision. Not being able to answer a question, vague answers or contradictory answers about the evidence submitted supporting an applicant’s disability could cause them to have their claim for Social Security benefits denied permanently.
Don’t be Caught Off Guard By “Trick” Questions
At Marc Whitehead & Associates, we represent clients at all phases of the Social Security disability benefits application and appeals process, including hearings in front of an ALJ. For many of our clients, the prospect of having to answer an ALJ’s questions can be an intimidating one.
We prepare them for what to expect at their hearing, including telling them what types of questions they’ll be asked so they won’t be caught off guard by any “trick” questions. The more our clients know going into the hearing the better they’ll be able to respond to the judge’s questions, greatly increasing the chances of having their claim for disability benefits approved.
The judge’s questions will focus on five areas:
Some of the questions you can expect about your personal history:
- What is your name?
- What is your date of birth?
- Where do you live?
- Who do you live with?
- What is your highest level of education?
Questions pertaining to your work history can include:
- When and where did you last work?
- How long did you work there?
- Why are you no longer able to do this job?
- How much sitting, standing, lifting, walking, or operating of tools did your last job require?
- What other jobs have you performed during the past 15 years?
- Have you applied for work since filing your application?
As you can expect, the ALJ will express interest in your medical history:
- What is your impairment?
- How often does it occur?
- How long does it last?
- How does it affect you?
- What limitations does it cause?
- What treatments do you use?
Inquiries about your medical treatment can include:
- Do you currently have a treating physician?
- How long have you been seeing this physician? And how often?
- Have you been hospitalized? How long were you in the hospital?
- What medications do you take? How much do you take, how often do you take it and do you experience any side effects?
- Are you taking your medications as prescribed?
The ALJ may also ask questions about your daily activities:
- What is your physical capacity for lifting, carrying, sitting, standing, walking, climbing stairs, kneeling and stooping?
- Do you cook your own meals? Make beds? Dust? Do the dishes? Do laundry?
- Do you smoke? Do you consume alcohol?
- Do you use illegal drugs?
- Can you drive?
- How long have you been unable to do these things?
- Do you go shopping? How do you get to the store?
- Do you go to church? How do you get to church? Do you experience problems sitting at church for 1 hour?
- How long does it take you to get dressed in the morning? Do you require any help?
Avoid Getting Tricked By Being Prepared
As you can see, most of the questions are pretty straightforward. However, some of the questions could cause problems if the applicant isn’t prepared with an answer. When answering an ALJ’s questions, we recommend to our clients that they:
- Stay on subject and don’t ramble.
- Be honest.
- Be prepared to explain any discrepancies that may be in their record.
- Don’t be embarrassed or offended by the judge’s questions.
- Be specific about their symptoms, treatment and limitations.
- Remember that the judge probably knows the answers to his questions before he asks them.
Our Disability Attorneys Help At All Phases of the SSD Benefits Process
At Marc Whitehead & Associates, our experienced Houston disability attorneys represent clients at a Social Security hearing before an administrative law judge. If your claim for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, don’t give up.
Call us today at 800.562.9830 to schedule a free initial consultation meeting to discuss your case. Don’t delay — strict deadlines apply for filing an appeal.