Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be intimidating, especially when you know that many employees are denied when they first apply for benefits. However, even an initial denial of benefits does not mean that you’re out of opportunities. If your SSDI benefits were taken away or your application was denied, you have the right to appeal the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) determination.
When you decide to appeal an SSA decision, it’s important that you’re prepared for a hearing. Our disability lawyers are ready to help individuals going through SSDI hearings here in California.
Top 5 Tips for Your SSDI Hearing
The most important aspect of any Social Security hearing is proving that you have an eligible disability and are in need of aid. Here are five things to know when you’re involved in Social Security hearings:
- Make Sure That You Have Legal Support
An SSDI hearing is similar to a court case. You’re going to need the support of an adept Social Security lawyer to prove that your disability qualifies for benefits. Luckily, a disability attorney has the experience needed to help you collect evidence that actually demonstrates your need for assistance. From gathering medical documents that state your condition to asking witnesses to testify, working with a proficient Social Security lawyer is integral when you’re appealing a Social Security decision.
- Collect Evidence That Proves You’re Struggling
You are going to need substantial evidence if you want a successful disability hearing. It’s smart to look at the evidence that you submitted with your initial application and consider what could be more effective. In an SSDI hearing, you can use witnesses, medical bills and records, paystubs, HR reports, and other documents to prove how your injury now impacts your daily life. The most important detail that you need to demonstrate is the fact that your injury now prevents you from working.
- Call in Your Doctor
Calling in the medical professionals that you work with to testify can help an SSDI appeal immensely. Because your doctor is a recognized healthcare official and is also someone who experiences your day-to-day struggles, they can act as a key witness during your hearing. Sometimes, it can be difficult for Social Security agents to understand the magnitude of an injury in an application until they see it for themselves and have a doctor explain it. Your doctor can clearly discuss the impact that your disability now has on your life and the daily pain you experience.
- Be Honest and Clear
During your hearing, a judge will ask you numerous questions about your injury. It’s critical that you answer honestly, describing the impact that your injury has on your life without exaggerating. If the SSA believes that you’re stretching the truth, even in one answer, your appeal will most likely be denied. The SSA is scrupulous when it gives out benefits, especially because many people have attempted to fake disabilities.
- Stay on Topic
The only information that is valuable to the SSA during a hearing is information that classifies your disability. This is because they are only trying to decide whether your disability qualifies you for benefits. When you’re asked questions, try to stay on topic and don’t trail off into subjects that are not relevant to the SSA. Unfortunately, details like how your injury impacts your personal life may not be important to a judge when all they’re doing is deciding if you meet certain legal criteria.
Q: What Should You Not Talk About in a Disability Hearing?
A: It’s crucial that your answers remain consistent during your SSA hearing and that you emphasize your inability to work. If you make comments about all the things you can still do or talk about how no one will hire an injured person, this still implies that you may be able to work. Don’t bring up personal issues that are off-topic, work that you can perform, or issues that are not relevant to a judge who is deciding if you have a qualifying disability.
Q: How Do You Answer SSDI Questions When Your Pain Is Changing?
A: The healing process for anyone with a disability is far from simple. Some days, your pain can be manageable, but you may be unable to get out of bed on others. When you’re appealing an SSDI claim, it’s imperative to answer questions based on how you feel the majority of the time. For example, if you are unable to walk most days of the week but can occasionally go to the grocery store, you should emphasize to the judge that you can’t walk a majority of the time and are unable to work.
Q: How Should You Explain Daily Activities in a Disability Hearing?
A: When you’re asked about your daily activities, a judge wants to know whether your disability causes you pain or inconvenience when you perform them. Discuss how your injury has impacted basic activities such as:
- Brushing your teeth
- Getting dressed
- Grocery shopping
If you experience pain or can’t do an activity at all anymore due to an injury, make sure that you make that known to your judge.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Schedule an SSDI Appeal Hearing?
A: The appeal process for any Social Security determination can be lengthy. However, there are a few ways that you may be able to expedite your hearing, such as waiving your 75-day notice and having your case flagged. If your case is not flagged or expedited, it may take six or more months to have your hearing scheduled. If your case is flagged, you waive your 75-day notice, or a judge has approved expedition, your hearing may be scheduled within a few months.
Social Security Disability Lawyers
When a disability prevents you from working and being able to care for yourself, it’s critical that the Social Security Administration understands the magnitude of your injury. At Gade & Parekh, LLP, we’ve helped countless disabled employees fight for the Social Security benefits that they deserve. Contact our California disability firm for legal support during a Social Security appeal today.