Every year around 53 percent of all applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied according to a report from the Social Security Administration. When a person in Illinois receives a notice, informing them that they have been found ineligible for SSD benefits, the person is also informed that they have the right to appeal that decision.
Applicants have a limited amount of time to file their appeal, which is heard by an administrative law judge in what is called a hearing. Due to the high number of appeals, people should understand that their case could take up to a year or longer before it is heard. During that time, however, they can improve their chances for approval by preparing for the hearing.
What is an SSD hearing?
Unlike other court hearings, SSD hearings are relatively short and informal occasions which take place outside a courtroom. People often have no more than an hour to convince a judge that they qualify for Social Security Disability. While claim evaluators work for the SSA, administrative judges are not technically employees of the SSA and rely on the established laws in place to make their decision.
During the hearing, applicants are given a sworn oath and usually asked questions by the judge. A vocational expert will provide the judge with information on whether there are other occupations the applicant could perform that would not be impacted by the disability. Sometimes, applicants will be allowed to speak at the end of the hearing.
Improving the hearing outcome
Given the fact that there is a large amount of time between the appeal filing and the hearing, itself, people can use that time to prepare for their time before the judge, thereby increasing their chances of winning the appeal. Preparation efforts should include the following:
- Reviewing potential questions the judge may ask and the right answers to provide
- Looking over the case file and making sure that all of the information is accurate and that all sources of evidence are present.
- Requesting updated medical evidence from doctors and health professionals to show the continued impact of the disability
- Obtaining a written opinion from doctors to use as proof that the disability prevents the applicant from performing job duties such as typing, lifting, sitting or standing for extended amounts of time
In addition to these efforts, it could be a good idea to gather further proof of the disability through statements from family, friends, neighbors and others. The more evidence applicants can present to the judge, the stronger their case will be. It is also a good idea for applicants to meet with an SSD attorney who can help them make sure they have everything they need for the hearing.