WHAT WILL THE JUDGE ASK AT MY ALJ HEARING?
HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR ALJ HEARING
Be prepared for your ALJ hearing. You should hire an attorney to help you be a good witness. You need to think about the answers to some basic questions before you arrive. The hearing is being held to determine not only if you have a disability, but more importantly, to find out how your disability would prevent you from performing a job. The ALJ cannot figure out how severe your physical or mental impairments are unless you tell him or her. So, be ready to tell the Judge how long you are able to do things and how your impairment stops you from doing everyday activities.
THE ALJ ASKS QUESTIONS AT THE HEARING
Chances are good the ALJ will being the hearing with basic questions. First, you will be asked your name, your age, and marital status. The judge will also ask if you have any children at home under the age of 18. You will also be asked to describe your mental and physical impairments.
For example, if you have a back impairment, you will need to be able to describe in words where you back hurts and how it feels. You will not be able to stand up and show the Judge where it hurts. The Judge is not a doctor and is not qualified to perform a physical examination.
USE NUMBERS AND EXAMPLES IN YOUR TESTIMONY AT YOUR ALJ HEARING
You will also be asked how many pounds you can lift. Also, you will need to know how many minutes you can sit and stand at one time. Likewise, tell the judge if you need to lie down during the day. These questions are crucial to understanding whether or not your disability allows you to work.
If you cannot sit for 8 hours, you cannot perform a desk job. Likewise, if you cannot stand for six hours at a time, you cannot perform a light job. For example, a “light” job is a job like cashier. Cashiers stand the majority of the day. A “medium” level job is a job like construction worker. If you cannot lift more than 50 pounds, you cannot be a construction worker.
Be ready to answer questions with numbers. For example, if the Judge asks you how much you can lift with your back pain, you should answer 10 pounds or less and then give an example of what you can lift around your house or at the store. You should never respond to the question of what you can lift with this answer: “not very much.”
When you give vague answers it doesn’t help your case. Also, it doesn’t help the Judge understand how your disability affects you. No one knows what “not very much” means. The best thing you can do for your case is to be ready to answer the Judge’s questions with specific answers.
WHY DOES YOUR HEARING TESTIMONY MATTER?
At the ALJ hearing, your testimony determines your residual functional capacity. The RFC determines your work capability. The ALJ will use your testimony to determine whether you can work or not.
The categories of work are sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy. Each level of work has a specific definition. Sedentary exertional demands are less than light work demands, which are, in turn, less than medium. Below you will find the SSA’s definitions of three categories of work: sedentary, light, and medium. These will be the most likely be the categories of work that the ALJ will use to determine your residual functional capacity.
Another thing to consider is whether the SSA will consider whether or not you have more than one impairment. The answer is yes. The SSA will consider all of your medically determinable impairments. This includes your medical impairments that are not “severe.” This is explained in the regulations at 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(c), 416.921, and 416.923. It is important, when an ALJ determines RFC, for the judge to include your severe impairments and even those that are not severe. Find out more about the ALJ options here.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY TO HELP YOU AT YOUR ALJ HEARING
Typically, in order to win, you must go to a hearing. You should not go alone. When you hire us, we will prepare you to properly answer the ALJ questions. You may find it frustrating at first to answer questions in a certain way. But preparation is key to helping the judge understand your impairments. Make sure you hire an experienced representative to help you in court.
You can find out more about your legal team on this website. Dianna Cannon has been practicing disability law for over 30 years. Brett Bunkall has won hundreds of cases in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California. Andria Summers has over 20 years of experience helping claimants win disability benefits. Our representatives know the law. We have won over $100 million in disability benefits for our clients. Contact us today to hire a disability attorney with experience. You have nothing to lose by hiring an excellent legal team.