(The following material includes excerpts from a recent Continuing Legal Education course offered by the author.)
Most of our Social Security benefits clients at Hoglund Law Offices ultimately go to Social Security hearings. At these hearings, you will see your attorney function much like attorneys in trial courts. These hearings, however, are informal and are run by judges — called administrative law judges. These judges generally ask you important questions about your work history and medical problems. Hearings usually last about 45 minutes to an hour.
Although some hearing procedures may vary, they generally follow the routine below (in a private conference room where everyone remains seated):
- The JUDGE swears you in.
- The JUDGE verifies whether you understand how the hearing works.
- The JUDGE verifies whether your medical records are complete in your hearing file.
- The JUDGE asks you questions about your past work, your medical problems, and how your medical problems have affected your day-to-day activities.
- Your ATTORNEY asks you questions.
- The JUDGE asks the Medical Expert (if present) about the diagnoses in the medical records and how they limit you.
- Your ATTORNEY cross-examines the Medical Expert.
- The JUDGE asks the Vocational Expert “hypothetical questions”.
- Your ATTORNEY cross-examines the Vocational Expert about the testimony and about additional limitations.
- Your ATTORNEY may make a closing argument.
Hearings with judges can seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but our clients understand that we are there to make sure the judge understands why they cannot work.
Andrew W. Kinney, Esq.