Your Hearing Is Scheduled: What Now? By Eric Paulsen
In most cases, applicants for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will present with a representative before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is a vital step for many reasons, including that YOU can testify as to how your disabilities affect you on a daily basis. This is your chance to speak your mind. So, what now?
Once your hearing has been scheduled, the SSA’s Office of Hearings Operations will send you a packet in the mail. This Notice of Hearing includes important information, including the date, time, and location of your hearing. It also includes additional information, such as whether a vocational or medical expert will be called to testify. Typically, your Notice of Hearing will also include forms to update your medications and recent medical treatment. These forms not only ensure accuracy to the ALJ, but to Cannon Disability Law, as well. When you receive your Notice of Hearing, make sure you fill those forms out quickly and accurately and forward them to our office.
It is important to be on the same page with the person that will be representing you at your hearing. A paralegal will be in contact with you soon after your hearing has been scheduled to go over your file. This includes eligibility questions for SSI, your work history, and your medical records. Ideally, your file should already be updated with medical records, with the possible exception of recent progress notes. Work with your paralegal to ensure that everything is in your file; medical records are the most important piece of evidence, so make sure your chance at success is at its very highest!
In addition to medical records, your representative may request additional documentation. This may include letters from your doctor or former employer, or forms that have been designed to meet SSA’s disability determinations. While this documentation only supplements what is already in your file (your medical records), they can provide valuable support for your claim.
With your file complete and ready to go, you will then talk with your representative. This pre-hearing provides crucial information regarding your claim, the hearing process, and what questions you will be asked at your hearing. Your pre-hearing is likely the final stage before going before the ALJ, so make sure to ask questions before your hearing.
Your hearing is scheduled. You have ensured accuracy (the Notice of Hearing forms), development (updated medical records, provider forms, and letters), and preparation (pre-hearing). Now it’s time for the ALJ to hear your story. So take a deep breath, focus, and speak your mind. It’s the very best way to ensure you receive the help you need. If you need representation at your ALJ hearing, please contact Cannon Disability Law.