What kind of questions will I be asked at my disability hearing?

ALJ questionsMany people are interested in knowing details about their disability hearing. For instance, how many and what kind of questions can you expect? Most hearings will be over in under an hour and some even less than that. As a result, you should not have to answer questions for an extended period of time. No matter how short, this hearing is many people’s first experience in such a formal setting and can be quite nerve-wracking. The following is some background information on the process and tips for how to effectively handle the hearing. Whether your hearing is in Dayton, Ohio, Dallas, Texas or Gary, Indiana, the questions asked by the judge will fall into four broad categories: 1) background information; 2) work history; 3) medical conditions and symptoms; and 4) activities of daily living.

As the name implies, background questions provide the judge general information about you. These questions can include your educational history, marital status, income, military service or even past criminal charges. Drug and alcohol use could also conceivably come up, though certainly not always.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) might ask for additional information about your job including your responsibilities, the requirements of the job and how your condition has affected your job performance. This last item is the most important. Giving the judge specific examples of problems your condition has caused meeting performance standards, as well as attendance issues that result from your disability can help convince the judge that you are indeed prevented from working.

Although your medical records are on file the judge may want to ask some clarifying questions to make sure he has all the necessary information to make a proper decision. The judge will almost definitely ask you how your medical condition affects you. What type of pain do they cause you? How do you try to relieve the pain? Are your medications effective? How much can you lift and carry? How long can you stand, sit, and walk? This is your chance to explain how your condition affects your life and your work so think through these questions prior to going to the hearing.

When answering medical questions it is important to give clear answers that paint a picture of your level of impairment. If you suffer from back problems and the judge asks you for a description, use words like “burning,” “tingling,” “aching,” “shooting,” or “dull.” Also clearly describe the location of any pain. This will help the judge know decided whether the symptoms are consistent with the recognized symptoms of your condition.

You may also be asked about your activities of daily living. These include normal things like bathing and dressing yourself, cooking, cleaning, yard work, and grocery shopping. If you have children the judge will likely asking for details about how the children are cared for. This provides yet another good opportunity to showcase how your disability impacts your life. It is crucial to explain that even if you are able to help out around the house, your medical condition creates limitations.

With all the above-mentioned categories it’s important to be honest and avoid the temptation to exaggerate. Some may feel that it will help to make their symptoms sound worse than they actually are. This kind of dishonestly usually has the opposite effect. The judges are very experienced and hear many similar cases every year. They are experts at recognizing exaggerations and you do not want to lose credibility in their eyes.

Having an experienced disability attorney help prepare you for your hearing is a wise decision. If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call Nicholson Disability at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.