You applied for disability benefits and were turned down. You appealed the denial and have waited at least a year for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The big day is right around the corner and you start to wonder, “What do I do? What goes on in a disability hearing?”
First off, a hearing is a non-adversarial proceeding. What does that mean? It means there is not another “side” at the hearing trying to prevent you from getting benefits. The hearing is inquisitional, which means it is basically a fact-finding proceeding. The Judge will introduce himself and ask you some basic questions regarding your work history and medical conditions. Many Judges will give you the floor and let you tell them anything that relates to your disability. Other Judges exert much more control over what you can say. The Judge will then ask some questions to a Vocational Expert and allow you to cross-examine the Vocational Expert. The hearing will last anywhere from twenty minutes to one hour.
You might ask yourself whether you need an attorney to represent you at your hearing. Many people do not use an attorney and some of those people win their case. You might be one of those people whose case is so strong that there is nothing to do except show up for the hearing. Unfortunately, most cases are not that strong and need an experienced attorney to review the medical records and help you put your best foot forward at the hearing