For the majority of you filing for Social Security disability, you may find that you have been denied and have had to continue your appeals. Now, you've reached the point where you must go before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to discuss your case.
This will be your Social Security disability hearing. For the majority of you again, this is likely to be your last stop. Few cases go beyond this point, and even fewer cases are successful beyond the hearing stage. Furthermore, it is very likely if you are denied by the ALJ, his or her decision will be upheld even if you don't agree with it.
So, if this is the last stop on your journey to win Social Security disability benefits, what can you do to make sure you have the best chance for success?
First, and the most important, you should make sure all your medical records are available for the ALJ to review.
When you first filed for disability and then appealed the first decision, Social Security takes the chore upon themselves to order and retrieve your medical records. However, at the hearing stage, the burden then falls upon you to make sure all records are available for review. This means, about two to three months before your hearing, you'll need to request your remaining medical records and submit them to the hearing office. If your record is not complete, it will be that much harder to receive a favorable decision. In fact, it is likely the ALJ will rely on the Administration's prior decisions because nothing has changed with your condition. In other words, you have to have something different to show the ALJ so he or she can evaluate your case. Without these updated records, you'll likely be denied again.
Second, you may want to hire an attorney to help you present your case to the ALJ.
Without a doubt, your chances at approval increase at your hearing if you have an attorney. Not only can an experienced disability attorney properly evaluate your chances of success, but he or she can also provide the ALJ with insight as to why you should be approved. Many people choose not to hire an attorney even at this level of appeal, but they risk their case being denied yet again. Since a disability attorney is only paid if he or she is successful and there is back pay available, it would almost be foolish to proceed without one. Social Security disability law is complicated, it's always best to consult an expert to give yourself the best chance at success.
Third, continue to seek medical treatment, even if it is low-cost or indigent care.
The second biggest mistake claimants make besides not having their record complete at the time of their hearing is that over time, they stop going to the doctor. By the time you actually do receive a hearing, most people's impairments have risen to the level of chronic. This means they have continued to experience symptoms over the last few years. Even if a doctor has told you there is nothing more that can be done, it is still important that you show the Administration you are trying to get better. Large gaps in medical treatment are often injurious to a claimant's case. It shows he or she is able to go without treatment and their condition is not as severe as they make it out to be. That's why it is so important to keep seeking medical treatment, even if it is low-cost or indigent care.
Fourth, evaluate the case for yourself to understand if you truly are disabled.
Just because you have an impairment, even if it is chronic in nature, does not mean you are unable to work. For the majority of claimants, and any claimant under the age of 50 years of age, you have to show you are unable to even perform any job within the national economy. In order words, you have to show you cannot even perform simple unskilled work at a seated position with regular breaks. -This is a very difficult thing to do. It takes a lot to convince the Administration you are incapable of performing any kind of work. The best thing you can do for yourself at this point, is to evaluate whether you are truly disabled. You may find when it comes right down to it, you are capable of working at least at some unskilled work at a seated position.
If you need help, we assist claimants throughout the United States fighting for their Social Security disability benefits. Please feel free to contact us at: (888) 780-9125.