As disability lawyers in Winston-Salem, NC, we work with many claimants seeking SSDI benefits who present at hearing. Few claims resolve at the early stages of the process. That’s why it’s important to understand and recognize the signs of a good SSDI hearing. Remember, the content provided below is for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. No disability lawyer or claimant can guarantee a positive outcome on a hearing. Our goal is simply to educate you on what to expect at hearing.
SSDI Claims By Stage
Long before you appear at hearing for your disability claim, claimants begin the process of applying for SSDI benefits. SSDI claimants begin the process of applying for disability benefits by submitting an initial application. This may occur online, or in-person at a Social Security Administration (SSA) field office. You can also apply by mail or a claimant may hire a disability lawyer to file their initial application. Some Winston-Salem disability lawyers won’t take on clients at the initial stage. But at Collins Price, we help claimants file initial applications.
The second step in the process is the ‘Request for Reconsideration.’ If an initial application is denied (and most are), the SSDI claimant will need to file a ‘Request for Reconsideration’ with the SSA. Disabled claimants must file their appeal within 60 days of receiving their denial. Once SSA receives your request for reconsideration, they review your claim a second time.
If the SSA denies your claim at Reconsideration, it will progress to the SSDI hearing stage. The good news is that this is the stage where most Social Security disability claims are approved. Once again, you have 60 days from the date of Reconsideration denial to file a ‘Request for Hearing.”
And finally, if a claim is denied at hearing, you can appeal the decision a final time before the Appeals Council, but it is unlikely they will overturn the ALJ’s decision at hearing.
Signs Of a Good SSDI Hearing
Most of the claims we work on progress to a hearing where they are ultimately approved or denied. While no one can predict the outcome of a claim, there are signs we’ve picked up over our decade in practice that indicate a hearing is going well. Below, we’ll share a few examples:
#1: The Judge makes reference to your medical records and speaks to supporting testimony contained within. In most hearings, the ALJ asks claimants detailed questions about their impairments. If there is strong medical evidence on file, including supporting opinions from your treating providers the ALJ makes reference to, that is a positive sign.
#2: The Judge doesn’t question the timeline of your claim. Strong claims and their supporting medical evidence form a clear narrative that speaks clearly to a claimant’s impairments. Often, this narrative is chronological and easy to follow. If an ALJ follows the onset of impairments, your subsequent treatment and progression to a status of ‘disabled,’ you have a strong claim.
#3: The Vocational Expert’s testimony supports your claim for benefits. During your hearing, a Social Security vocational expert (VE) will participate. A VE is an individual trained in the labor market. Their job during a SSDI hearing is to provide theJudge with additional context around job or employer-related requirements specific to your impairments. If a VE participates in your hearing and their testimony supports your claim for benefits, this is a good sign.
#4: Your Disability Lawyer is happy with the hearing! Don’t overlook this very important sign of a good SSDI hearing! If you are working with an experienced disability lawyer, you will be properly prepared for the claim and kept ‘in the know’. Every person’s claim is unique – some have strong medical evidence while others are slim on supporting evidence. A disability lawyer’s goal for a hearing will vary based on the claim as well.
That’s why when a hearing is complete, if your disability lawyer gives you an indication that you met your goals for the hearing, that’s a great sign. You’ve done all you can and now the decision is in the hands of the ALJ.
Disability Lawyers in Winston-Salem, NC
We hope you’ve enjoyed this content provided by Collins Price, PLLC. If you are filing an application for SSDI benefits or appealing a denied claim, give us a call today. We’ve helped thousands of claimants throughout North Carolina and would be happy to provide you with a free consultation on your claim.