Unfortunately, most people who file for social security disability insurance benefits are rejected the first time. If you hope to achieve benefits, the reality is that you may be required to file an appeal.
Once an appeal has been granted and a hearing date has been set, which may be as far as a year away, you will want to prepare for it. The actual hearing will be in front of an administrative law judge.
How to Prepare for Your Disability Hearing
1. Continue with your current treatment.
It’s important that you continue to see doctors regularly, despite having a hearing date. This is important for two reasons. The first is that you disability should be properly looked after and evaluated to provide for continuity of treatment and documentation of the severity of your disability. Second, you must have evidence to prove your disability.
2. Gather up-to-date medical records.
Make sure to have every updated medical record available from all continuing treatment. If you let your doctors know a few months beforehand about your hearing date, obtaining them will be a smooth process. The Social Security Administration will not gather the medical records on your behalf, so do not assume anything. If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney’s office will likely do this for you.
3. Obtain letters from your doctors.
Schedule an appointment with your primary doctor, or specialists you have been working with, and explain that you are set for a disability hearing and would like a statement corroborating your disability claims. Inform your doctor you would like a detailed medical source statement highlighting and explicating your disability, and ask for it to list a number of things you are unable to do. This will add proof to your claim, and the judge will have access to these statements which can be key to winning your hearing.
4. Review your file.
Since you have been keeping your records up-to-date, you’ll want to make sure your file reflects your diligence. You are allowed to request your entire file from the Social Security office before your hearing. This gives you the opportunity to make sure there are no mistakes, missing reports or medical records.
5. Hire an experienced disability attorney.
Not only does hiring an attorney increase the likelihood that you will win your hearing, but an attorney can also help you gather all medical information pertaining to your case. They can coach you on the types of questions you’ll be asked by the judge, and they can ease the stressful process of attending your hearing. More importantly, it won’t cost you anything out of pocket if you are not granted your benefits. Disability attorneys only receive payment on successful appeals, so there is no risk to you.
If you’re in the process of preparing for your disability hearing, hire an experienced disability attorney to help you through the legal process and get your benefits approved.