The appeals process for a denied disability claim can go quite far. If you have trouble gathering supporting documents, proving your disability to the Social Security Administration, or validating your income level, then you might reach the hearing stage. This is an important opportunity for you to prove your case in person rather than through the mail or on the telephone.
At a hearing, a judge can assess your case and decide whether or not your disability, income, and resources qualify you for specific benefits. However, there are a few guidelines that you should keep in mind during your hearing.
1) Act and dress respectfully in the courtroom.
Usually, there is a vocational expert, judge, judge's assistant, and your attorney in the courtroom during a final hearing. All of these people work together towards determining if you qualify for disability, so you'll want to cooperate with each of them. Follow general court guidelines, such as allowing each person to speak when it is their turn, and your hearing will go smoothly.
2) Don't improvise answers.
Your experienced disability attorney can prepare you for a hearing well before you reach the courtroom. If you become confused or overwhelmed by a question, don't try to come up with an answer on the spot. In most cases, you can let your attorney answer on your behalf.
3) Be specific in your answers.
Your hearing is your opportunity to demonstrate how your disability affects your daily life. Try to use specific numbers and terms when you are asked about certain activities. For example, instead of saying, "I can't sit for long," you should say, "I can't sit for more than 10 minutes." A judge wants to know exactly how your disability causes you problems in daily activities.
4) Consider all of your symptoms.
Some people may only think of physical limitations as a disability. Mental conditions and difficulties can also constitute a disability though. For example, limited concentration or mental abilities should be brought up with the judge. Mental disabilities can limit your work or personal life just as much as a physical disability.
Appealing a denied disability claim can be intimidating and overwhelming. If your appeal reaches a hearing, then you should have experienced representation to protect you.