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Disability hearing in 4 weeks what should I be doing?

Many claimants are shocked to find out that up to 70% of disability applicants are denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) the first time they apply. It’s also not unusual for many applicants to be denied a second time and have to schedule a disability hearing before an administrative law judge to argue their case for benefits. get-filing-disability-help Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I was denied SSDI for diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, and I have a hearing scheduled in four weeks. I know this is my best chance to win benefits. What should I be doing to prepare for the disability hearing?”
  1. Talk to your disability lawyer.
Assuming you already has a disability attorney, the first step to prepare for the disability hearing is to contact your disability lawyer and verify they have all the information they need to prove your case. For example, if you were denied benefits the first time because the SSA said they believed you could retrain for new work, you will need to provide additional medical evidence that you do not have the mental and physical functional capacity to continue to work in any type of job available within the regional economy. The disability lawyer may need you to go to the doctor one last time and have the doctor complete a residual functional report. This form provides very specific information about your work limitations. For example, it will list your symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, information about how long you can stand and sit, whether you have to lie down, how many breaks you need during an 8 hour work day, how much weight you can lift, and your range of motion. This form, as well as any additional recent medical information, should be sent to the judge prior to the disability hearing date.
  1. Review the disability hearing court procedures.
With all the resources available online there is no reason you should not have a clear understanding of what will happen at your disability hearing. For example, it’s important to understand that this disability hearing is not like an episode of Law and Order. Although you can have your attorney present, the state will not have a prosecutor present to challenge your answers. What should you expect? You will have to state your name, date of birth, Social Security number, height, weight, and living arrangements. The judge may ask you about your limitations. There could also be a vocational and medical expert present who will provide information about your case. For example, the vocational expert may list jobs they believe you can work based on your age, work history, physical condition, and transferable work skills. You are also allowed to present witnesses for your case, but if they are friends or family members it is likely the judge will consider their testimony prejudiced in your favor. Bottom line: Winning your disability case for diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity will require you to provide good medical documentation about your functional limitations to work. If you do not have sufficient medical evidence and the job’s expert convinces the judge there are jobs you could perform given your current medical condition, you will be denied SSDI benefits. Recent articles: What type of cancers qualify for SSDI benefits?