WHAT QUESTIONS WILL THE JUDGE ASK AT MY DISABILITY HEARING?
Are you wondering what questions the judge will ask at your SSA hearing? Don’t worry, an SSA hearing is nothing like a criminal hearing. You are the main witness. But, you will not be grilled with questions like they do to witnesses on television.
SSA hearings are not formal. They are held in private. Which means the public cannot come in and out of the court room. The only people who will listen to your testimony are the people who are at the hearing. This is usually the judge, your attorney, the court reporter, and possibly a vocational or medical expert who is hired by the SSA.
Even though hearings are informal, it is still important to think about the questions you will need to answer. Mostly, because you are the witness at your Social Security hearing, the judge is going to be asking you specific questions. For example, the judge will ask about your background, your medical history, and your medical symptoms. Read worst mistakes people make at their Social Security hearing, to help yourself get ready to present your case.
If you do not know where your hearing is going to be, then you can find out online at Social Security’s website. You will also receive a notice in the mail. The SSA hearing notice contains the time, date, and location of your hearing.
WHAT QUESTIONS WILL THE JUDGE ASK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE HEARING?
The beginning of the hearing is much like you would expect. For example, if you have a hearing in person, then you will need to go to the location for the hearing. Usually, the hearing is held in a federal building or an office building that is near you. You will have the address on your Notice of Hearing that comes in the mail.
If you hearing is going to be over the telephone, then the judge will call you at the correct time. You, the judge, your attorney, and any experts will all be on the telephone together. The hearing will be recorded by an SSA worker. The will not be able to record your hearing. Also, you will need to be alone in a quiet room. You cannot have other people listening to the hearing.
Finally, you may have a hearing held over video. This will require you to have a smart device that can log into the internet. The SSA will send you a hearing notice by email. In that notice, there will be a link that you can use to connect to the hearing. You may also have to follow others instructions for the link to work.
No matter what way your hearing is held, the questions the judge will ask are not going to change. However, the one good thing about having a hearing in person is that the judge can see any medical conditions that you may have. For example, if your hands shake, the judge could see it. Or if you use a cane, then the judge can see it. The judge includes any symptoms they see in their hearing decision.
WILL YOUR ATTORNEY ASK QUESTIONS AT THE HEARING?
If you have an attorney, then your attorney should be asking you questions at the hearing. You may be wondering, what kind of questions will they be? How will I know what to say? Will I know the answers? Don’t worry. You will know the answers to the questions, because all of the questions are about you and your medical conditions.
First, the judge will ask your name, date of birth, address, and possibly your Social Security Number. Second, you will usually be asked if you were in the military and if you are married, single, or divorced. These are questions that are easy for most people. However, after those questions, you will be asked about your medical symptoms. There are things you can do to prepare to answer those questions.
HOW DOES YOUR MEDICAL CONDITION PREVENT YOU FROM WORKING?
The main thing you can do to help yourself is to think about your medical conditions and how it keeps you from working. Specifically, the judge wants to know how much you can lift, how long you can sit, stand and walk. Also, the judge wants to know if you are able to concentrate on job instructions. Or, would you forget the instructions your boss gives you?
Be ready to give specific examples from your past work. Perhaps you lost your last job because you couldn’t remember instructions or you missed too much work because you were ill.
Would you be able to work for eight hours a day? Or would you need to take extra breaks? Do you have examples from your past jobs that you can tell the judge? Likewise, do you have problems coming to work on time? Do you leave early? All of the hearing questions are about how you function during an 8-hour workday.
If there is a medical expert at the hearing, then the ALJ will ask the doctor about your medical symptoms. Learn more about the role of the medical expert at the hearing . Likewise, if there is a vocational expert at the hearing, then the ALJ will also ask questions of the VE about jobs. Read more here about VE testimony.
THE JUDGE WILL ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN PHYSICALLY DO DURING AN 8 HOUR WORK DAY
Tell the ALJ about your physical conditions. For example, if you lay down every afternoon for 2 hours because of back pain, then you need to tell the judge that you lie down. That amount of lying down prevents from you doing all types of work.
Can you imagine an employer letting you lay down on the job for two hours during an 8 hour shift? Of course not. That is why it is important to use numbers and also examples when you talk about your symptoms. If you tell the judge you lay down “a lot,” then that doesn’t help your case. No one knows what “a lot” means. So, instead of answering with general statements, be specific.
Try to use numbers when you answer questions. Also, use real examples from your life when the judge asks you what you can or cannot do.
Likewise, if the judge asks how many pounds you can lift, the answer isn’t “not very much.” The answer is 5, 10, or the number of pounds you could lift over and over during an 8 hour workday without pain.
You need to explain all of your physical issues with a number. If you cannot sit for more than 15 minutes at a time, then tell the judge. If you cannot walk for more than 10 minutes due to back pain or some other problem, then tell the judge. The more specific you are in your answers, the more the Judge will understand your what you can and can’t do.
THE JUDGE WILL ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT MENTAL SYMPTOMS KEEP YOU FROM WORKING
Mental conditions, like Depression and Anxiety, result in symptoms that can impact your ability to work for 8 hours a day. The judge will ask you questions about your mental symptoms. For example, if you have anxiety, then the judge may ask if you have panic attacks at work. Your answer should not simply be “yes.” Instead, you should talk about how, in the past, you have had a panic attack at work.
If you find yourself only saying “yes” or “no” in answer to the judge’s questions, then you are losing your case. You are losing because you are not answering the question in any detail.
Instead, you could say something like this: “I have at least one panic attack a week. At work, I would have a panic attack when I had to talk to my boss. The panic attack would last 30 minutes and during that time I would have to go to the break room.”
If you answer properly, then you are helping the ALJ understand that at least once a week, due to panic attacks, you would be away from your work station for 30 minutes. You are also helping the judge understand that you have trouble dealing with people in authority. These are two important parts of work.
Most employees would be fired if they took a 30 minute break, in addition to normal breaks, once every week. Employers want you working. They do not want you not having a panic attack in the break room. Also, in order to work, you must be able to follow instructions from your boss. If you cannot do that, then it impacts your ability to do any type of job.
BE READY FOR WHATEVER QUESTIONS THE JUDGE WILL ASK AT YOUR SSD HEARING
Before the hearing, review your symptoms so you can explain, using numbers and examples, how you are not able to complete an 8 hour workday. Even though every judge is different, all of the hearing questions revolve around whether or not you can work. Prepare yourself to answer questions about your physical and mental health.
If you hire us to represent you, then we will give you a list of questions to help you prepare yourself for the hearing. Additionally, we will review your answers with you. This will help you know that you are ready to be a good witness at your SSD hearing. Also, we will submit your medical records prior to the 5 day rule for evidence.
You need a lawyer to help you at your Social Security hearing. Contact us. We offer a free review of your case. Also, it costs no money up front to hire us to help you win your case. This is because you don’t pay us unless we win your hearing. Learn more about attorney fees in SSD cases.
Prior to your hearing, we meet with you to discuss the hearing questions. In order to win your SSD hearing, you need to prepare yourself. Every person is different. Each person has unique issues that they face. Therefore, when we prepare you for your hearing, we focus on your unique medical conditions. It is our job, as your Social Security legal team, to show the judge why your medical condition prevents you from working. We will help you be ready, no matter what questions the judge will ask at your hearing.