Tips for Your SSD Hearing: How to Respond to Questions
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a crucial resource for those who have faced life-challenging injuries. When you can no longer work due to a disability, SSDI benefits are a critical lifeline providing financial assistance to meet your everyday needs. Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of fraud concerning SSD and people who cheat the system to get benefits. Because of this, the Social Security Administration has become skeptical of anyone who makes an application for benefits, regardless of whether they tell the truth or not. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for people who apply for benefits to be denied at first review. Fortunately, if you have been denied benefits, this is not the end of the road. You can apply for an appeal to have your case reviewed before a judge at an SSDI hearing.
How Does an SSDI Hearing Work?
To get an SSDI hearing before a judge, you must apply for an appeal after your denial. It is important to keep in mind that you must request a hearing within 60 days of your denial.
During the hearing, a judge will ask you and your witnesses questions about the nature of your disability. The answers you give and the way that you give them are critical to whether he or she rules to overturn your rejection or not.
Responding to the Judge’s Questions
Although answering a judge’s questions at an SSDI hearing may seem overwhelming, being prepared is the key. There are some essential guidelines to keep in mind when answering questions. Following these guidelines can increase the chances of getting the benefits you need.
Answer the Question
One of the most common mistakes made at an SSDI hearing is that the claimant fails to answer specific questions calmly and directly. When answering questions, you should stick to the point with short and effective responses and not deviate from the question. You can offer details but keep these on topic and relevant. Don’t exaggerate. Although you may be nervous, do not ramble or provide long-winded explanations.
The more concise and specific you can be, the better. This will help the judge understand how your disability affects you on a daily basis. Don’t offer vague information. Use concise descriptions for your pain and your limitations. The judge will be looking to see if your symptoms are medically consistent with your condition.
How Has Your Life Changed?
A judge will want to know how your life has changed in light of your disability. You want to offer what your life looked like pre-condition and how it has changed, particularly if you cannot even do sedentary activities. If you require assistance in your daily life, from family or friends, this is important to divulge. Describe the help you get and why. If you have trouble concentrating or remembering, or sitting still for any period of time, this offers a glimpse of how you would function in a work setting.
It can be useful to have a family member or friend who assists you act as a witness at your hearing or write a brief letter on your behalf.
Addressing Uncomfortable Facts
Your medical records may bring some uncomfortable information to light that you will need to address honestly and forthrightly. For instance, many who suffer from chronic pain have come to rely on prescription pain medications or even alcohol to get through their day. It is important that you don’t address these defensively or deny facts that bear out in the records. If drug or alcohol use is a contributing factor to your condition, however, you may be denied benefits.
During the hearing, you may be required to discuss very personal things regarding your condition and symptoms. Divulging personal information may be embarrassing, but it is important to understand that the judge has heard testimony from hundreds of people applying for benefits with every imaginable disability. Try to set your embarrassment aside so you can be as concise and honest as possible about your condition and how it affects your life.
Gaps in Medical Treatment
If there are periods of time that you have not been getting medical treatment for your condition, the judge will question these. You want to answer this honestly. You may have found yourself without insurance, or your symptoms may have improved temporarily.
Honesty is the Best Policy in Your SSDI Hearing
Your honesty is critical when answering all questions posed to you by the judge. Anything that comes across as untruthful will make the judge question your credibility and may put you at risk of losing your claim.
Getting Skilled Legal Assistance from an Arizona SSD Lawyer
Although you have the option to attend an SSDI hearing without a lawyer, having the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer in Arizona who has navigated the system over the years is helpful and further ensures your success.
At Walner Law, we have worked on over 10,000 SSD and personal injury cases in and around Arizona, guiding clients and ensuring they get the assistance they need. If you have questions about your SSDI claim, fill out our online form or call us at 480-508-8800 to schedule a free case evaluation to understand how having an Arizona SSD attorney on your side may be critical to the success of your claim.