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What Will The #Judge Ask At My #ALJ #Hearing?

In order to be prepared for your ALJ hearing, 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.

Chances are good that you will be asked basic questions, like your name, age, marital status, and if you have any children 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.

You will also be asked how many pounds you can lift, how long you can sit at one time, stand at one time, and 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.  If you cannot stand for six hours at a time, you cannot perform a light job, like cashiers.  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 and 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.

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