An administrative hearing is held if the claimant is denied Social Security Disability benefits at the Initial and Reconsideration levels. The hearing is held at a local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) and is presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing is statistically the best opportunity to get approved for disability benefits.
Many claimants wonder, “Do I have speak to the judge myself, or will my attorney do all the talking?”
The answer is that you should fully expect to talk to the ALJ. One of the reasons the hearing is the best opportunity to get approved is because the ALJ has an opportunity to meet you and get your perspective before making a decision on your case. At previous administrative levels, the adjudicators never meet the claimant. At the hearing, the claimant is face to face with the person making the decision, giving them the opportunity to ask any questions they have about the case.
Do not worry. You will not be asked to present legal theories or define complicated medical terms. That is for your attorney to deal with. The ALJ will most likely ask you questions about your day to day activities, trying to get an understanding on how your medical impairments limit your daily life. He/She might also ask you to describe your symptoms and how they affect your physical and mental abilities. Your answers will help the ALJ make a more accurate decision. Your attorney will also have a chance to ask you questions that he/she wants emphasize regarding your disabilities.
The best advice to give to a claimant is simple: be honest. The ALJ will get your testimony at the hearing and then review your medical records in light of the new testimony. If what you say at the hearing makes sense with what is in the medical records, your testimony can go a long way toward a favorable decision.