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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? How will I explain my physical and mental symptoms?

These are a good questions. You should be thinking about what you can do to prepare. 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. Spend some time learning about how to answer questions in court. Now, it is time to prepare. Learn more here about what questions the judge will ask at your ALJ hearing. If you need help with your upcoming hearing, then contact Cannon Disability today.

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 your 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 by the SSA mailing a CD. If you have a lawyer, then they can access your file on SSA’s online site for attorneys.


Your Social Security case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). ALJ’s are lawyers who the SSA trains in Social Security law. Many of the ALJ’s have been judges for years. Most of the judge’s have had prior careers as lawyers in some other area of law.

For example, your judge may have been a corporate attorney or a former military staff attorney. Some have previous experience as trial attorneys. Or, your judge may have prior experience as a judge for Worker’s Compensation. All of the judges have different backgrounds. However, they all have training from the SSA to be a judge. Go here you have questions about receiving a new hearing before a properly appointed judge.

One thing to remember is that no matter who your judge is, the questions at the hearing follow a certain form. Most of the judges ask similar questions at every hearing. Of course, the questions change depending on the mental or physical condition the judge is asking you about. But if you have an attorney, they should be able to prepare you in advance for the questions that you will be asked at your hearing.


Your hearing will be held at the Office of Hearing Operations (“OHO”).  You will receive notice of the time and place of the hearing about 30 days prior to the hearing. The judge will ask you questions. You are the main witness. The point of the hearing is for you to testify about your mental and physical symptoms and how they keep 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 and your attorney. After that, the judge may call 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 the testimony of a family member. The reason for this is your family has an interest in you winning benefits. 

If we do call a family member to testify, it is usually because you have a mental condition that makes is hard for you to testify. Mental disorders like schizophrenia or dementia can cause memory issues that make it difficult for you testify. Likewise, if you have a seizure disorder, sometimes it is hard for you to testify about your seizures. Because usually you don’t remember them. For example, you may not know what is happening when you are having a seizure. However, you probably remember how you feel after a seizure. This would be an example of when family testimony is useful and helps win your SSA hearing.


The Medical Expert is chosen by the ALJ. Typically, the Medical Expert is a doctor who often appears at hearings at the request of the SSA. The Judge does not always call a Medical Expert. Therefore, 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 benefits under the SSA’s rules. They will compare your mental or physical condition to 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 doctor may be an expert in physical disease. For example, the doctor may be an internist, cardiologist or oncologist. For instance, the judge should be asking a doctor to testify if you have a rare or complex medical condition.  The Medical Expert cannot examine you at the hearing. However, they can ask you some questions. They may ask questions to clarify your symptoms. Similarly, they may ask about your past medical history.

The medical expert may compare a physical disability, like Multiple Myeloma with Listing 13.07. Or, if you have Multiple Sclerosis, the doctor will testify whether your MS meets listing 11.09. Additionally, the medical expert can testify as to your residual functional capacity.


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 experience placing people in jobs.

Likewise, they usually have experience placing people in jobs. If they do not have the appropriate experience, you can object to them as a witness. This is what an attorney does at the hearing. This is a good reason to hire an attorney.

The Vocational Expert answers the ALJ’s questions while considering your physical and mental conditions. 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 as to their opinion and not worry about who paid them for it. This means they are there to answer questions. But, they are not in favor of either side of the case. Experts use published sources, like the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to prove the truth of their testimony. Read here if you want to learn more about vocational testimony.


At Cannon Disability Law, the key to winning your SSA hearing is the development of your case. You develop a good case by getting 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 your case to the Judge. All legal arguments must agree with the medical evidence. Having an experienced disability representative present your case plays a crucial role in winning benefits.

There are around 1400 ALJ’s in the United States.  These ALJ’s conduct 750,000 hearings per year. Some ALJ’s grant a high number of cases. However, 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 attorney  should know the ALJ and the expert witnesses.

Cannon Disability has the legal experience to properly present your case. After all, the burden to prove disability is on you. Go here you need information about your Salt Lake City hearing location. Likewise, Nevada hearing information can be found here. We also represent clients in Idaho. If you need help with Idaho disability benefits, then read here.

If you are from California, we can also represent you. Learn more about California disability benefits here. Likewise, if you are from Colorado, we have more information about Colorado disability benefits on our website.


An attorney with experience can be the difference between winning or losing your benefits. Hire the best attorney to help you. In the past 30 years, the attorneys at our law firm have won more than 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases. Therefore, 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 law firm 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.

We do not make you pay any upfront attorney fee. In fact, you will only pay an attorney fee when we win your benefits. If we don’t win your case, then you do not pay an attorney fee. If you need to know more about attorneys fees, review our page What Will It Cost.

Additionally, if you need to apply for SSD benefits, then visit Social Security’s website. You can apply online. We can help you. Also, we offer a free review of your case. 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 SSD and SSI case. Because you need benefits to replace your former income. We don’t take the case of every person who calls. Because not everyone has a medical condition that can win benefits. However, if you call, we will try to answer your questions about the benefit process. Call now. Put our experience to work for you. Hire us. We will help you win your disability hearing.

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