“Hi, my name is Andrew Kinney. I’m an attorney that practices Social Security Law at Hoglund Law offices. Today I wanted to do a video to help people understand what to expect when you’re testifying at a social security hearing with a federal social security administrative law judge.
There is a lot of fear about talking in front of a judge, particularly when it involves benefits that are very important to you. The social security hearing itself is the first real time you get to discuss your case with a decision maker. Hearings can vary across the country. In my experience, since 1992, one of the things – the patterns I’ve noticed – is that hearings are generally about 45 minutes to an hour. In that time you have a social security administrative law judge that speaks directly with you about your disability and finds out essentially how you’re affected day to day based on your limitations.
So, what I generally tell people when I’m going to a hearing with one of my clients is I explain first to be yourself. Nothing is more important than you having the judge understand that when you’re there you’re “being real” with the judge. Nothing is worse than someone thinks they need to say certain things to make them sound worse. The medical records that are in the file and that your attorney gets before the hearing are “locking in” what’s wrong. The person that shows up at the hearing explains his or her situation, my client, is only there to give details. That’s what I’m helping you with. It’s in your own words and you need to explain it in your own way.
Another thing that I think is very important about a social security hearing is that you get enough sleep, you make sure to appear ahead of time so you’re not rushed and distracted. You should also make sure that if you’re in a hearing and you may have family members that witness your hearing, make sure that they’re perhaps not, with good intentions interrupting you or making sure you include certain things. I tell my clients that these hearings are not tests, they’re not something that if you don’t say the right thing you’re going to lose.
What’s most important, again, is that if you’re talking about something that the judge has to understand how bad it is, talking about pain, the judge needs to understand how bad the pain is, where it is, when it happens. Now this may all be reported in the record, but this is a time where you can talk to the judge directly and make your point. For instance with a back problem, if you cannot bend down, if you have spasms, how often they last, what you do to make them better if anything there is to do like pain medication.
You can see that there are a lot of things to talk about at a hearing, there is a lot of things you might want to fit in. But keep in mind this is what Hoglund Law offices will tell our clients. This is a basic time where you can lay out basic reasoning you can’t work full time. In more detail than that it may cause some problems. If you have any other questions about your social security hearing please feel free to call us.
The first time you have a hearing you do have a right to postpone the hearing until you get an attorney but there is a timeframe here. So if you are looking at this video and you have a hearing tomorrow for example, you just need to know, at least for the first hearing, that you have a right to postpone if you want. If you want an attorney with you, make sure you ask for a licensed attorney and make sure you call a law firm.