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You can win your disability hearing with Cannon Disability’s help. Once your hearing date finally arrives, you may feel like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, you probably have even more questions. Like, what happens at my hearing? Or, how can I be ready to talk to the judge? These are a good questions and you should be thinking about what you can do to get ready. Because the most important part of your case has finally arrived.  You are the main witness at your hearing. What you say to the judge matters. Now, it is time to prepare.

social security disability hearing

The SSA informs you by mail of the time and date for your hearing. They do not send out a notice until your case is ready to schedule. If you case is ready to schedule, then the SSA has put all of your medical records into a file format. Your file is available for you to review at the Office of Hearing Operations. Or, you can request that they send you a copy of your file. Usually, it will be sent to you through mailing a CD. If you have a representative, then they can access your file on SSA’s online site.


Your Social Security Disability case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge. ALJ’s are lawyers who are trained in Social Security disability law by the SSA. Many of the ALJ’s have been judging disability cases for years. Most of the SSA judge’s have had prior careers as lawyers in some other area of law. For example, they may have been a bankruptcy attorney or a former staff attorney for the military. Some have previous experience as trial attorneys or even, prior experience as a judge for Worker’s Compensation. However, they all have training from the SSA to be a disability judge.


Your hearing will be held at the Office of Hearing Operations (“OHO”).  You will receive notice of the time and place of the hearing approximately 30 days prior to the hearing. The judge will ask you questions and you will testify about your disability and how it keeps you from working.  

The hearing is private. The court room is closed to the public. The only people who can come into your hearing, besides you, are the Judge, your representative, a Medical Expert (“ME”), and a Vocational Expert (“VE”). There is also a court reporter recording the hearing. You are the witness for your own case. We do not usually call witnesses, like family members, to testify. We don’t do this because the ALJ will not give weight to a family member’s testimony. The reason is, they have interest in you winning benefits. 

If we do call a family member to testify, it is usually because the claimant has schizophrenia or dementia. These mental disorders make it difficult for the claimant to testify for themselves. Likewise, if a claimant has a seizure disorder, sometimes it is difficult for them to testify about their own seizures. Because they don’t remember them or know what is happening when they are having a seizure. This would be an example of when a family member’s testimony is useful and helps win your disability hearing.


The Medical Expert is chosen by the ALJ. Typically, the Medical Expert is an physician who routinely appears at hearings at the request of the SSA. The Judge does not always call a Medical Expert, so not all hearings have one. But, if your hearing does have one, he or she is there to testify about your medical records.

The Medical Expert will also testify as to whether you qualify for disability benefits under the SSA’s guidelines. They will compare your impairment to the SSA’s listing. For example, if you have Depression, then the expert will look at your symptoms under Listing 12.04. Medical Experts can be psychologists or psychiatrists.

Additionally, the expert may be a specialist. For example, the doctor may be an internist, cardiologist, or oncologist. After all, the judge should be requesting a medical specialist to testify if your impairment is rare or complicated.  The Medical Expert cannot give you an examination at the hearing. However, they can ask you some questions in order to clarify your symptoms or past medical history.


The ALJ can also call a Vocational Expert to testify about your past work and other work that you could do. Vocational Experts have training in types of jobs, jobs skills, and the number of jobs that exist in the national economy. Most vocational experts have a degree in vocational matters. Likewise, they usually have experience placing individuals in a variety of jobs. If they do not have the appropriate experience, you can object to them as a witness. Objecting to a witness is usually something an attorney does at the hearing versus an unrepresented claimant.

The Vocational Expert answers the ALJ’s questions while considering your physical and mental impairments. They will also consider any skills you have from past work, your age, and your level of education. Although Vocational Experts are paid by the SSA, they are supposed to testify objectively. This means they are there to answer questions. But, they are not in favor of either side of the case. Experts use vocational sources, like the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to prove the accuracy of their testimony.


At Cannon Disability Law, the key to winning your disability hearing is the development of your case. You develop a good case by obtaining the correct medical evidence. For example, you will need opinion evidence from your doctor. Our goal is to help you obtain that opinion evidence. When we have good evidence, we can present a clear theory of disability to the Judge. All legal arguments must be supported with objective medical evidence. Having an experienced disability representative present your case plays a crucial role in winning benefits.

There are approximately 1400 ALJ’s in the United States and these ALJ’s conduct approximately 750,000 Hearings per year. Some ALJ’s grant a high number of cases and some grant a very low number of cases. Most ALJ’s fall somewhere in the middle in terms of how many cases they grant. Your representative should know the ALJ and the expert witnesses. The representatives at Cannon Disability have the legal experience to properly present your case.


An attorney with experience in disability law can be the difference between winning or losing your disability benefits. If you need an attorney, contact Cannon Disability Law today. We can usually tell you over the phone if we can help you with your case. We can become your representative at any stage of your case.

Even if you are weeks away from a hearing, we can help you win your benefits. Contact us using this website. Or, give our office a call. It doesn’t cost you anything to ask us questions or to become our client. You will only pay an attorney fee when we win your disability benefits.

If we don’t win your case, you do not pay an attorney fee. If you are worried about attorneys fees, please review the page, What Will It Cost. Additionally, if you need to apply for SSD benefits, visit Social Security’s website. You can apply online. We can help you do so. In order to know if we can help you, we also offer a free consultation. Call us for free today. Find out if we can represent you before the SSA. It is the goal of our legal team to win your disability case so that you have benefits to replace your former income. We don’t take the case of every person who calls, because not everyone is eligible for disability benefits. However, if you call, we will try to answer your questions about the disability process.

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