What Happens in Your Prehearing Conference with Your Social Security Disability Lawyer?

Although some people get their benefits granted right away, most people who apply for Social Security Disability are denied at both the initial application and reconsideration stages.   

The next step in appealing a disability benefits denial is to request a hearing before a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ).

When you have a hearing coming up, you need to prepare. Succeeding in your hearing, after all, will be crucial to getting financial relief when you can’t work due to health problems. And one of the most important ways to prepare is by attending a prehearing conference with your disability lawyer.

Social Security rules require that you receive at least 75 days’ notice of when your hearing will take place. Most of the time, at our disability law firm, we get at least three months of notice.

Once we know the date and time of your hearing, we will schedule the prehearing conference six to eight weeks prior to the hearing.

If you work with me as your disability attorney, I’ll let you know in your prehearing conference what to expect at your hearing, and I’ll help you prepare to testify there.

This conference can either be in person or over the phone. But I strongly prefer my clients to schedule an in-person conference unless traveling to meet me is impossible for them. Meeting in person just makes for a better back-and-forth conversation.

For a full idea of what this meeting is like, and why it’s important, keep reading.

What We Cover in Your Meeting Before Your Disability Hearing

When we sit down to go over your upcoming hearing before a Social Security Disability judge, these are some of the things we’ll discuss:

  • You’ll tell me more about your medical conditions and daily limitations.

  • We’ll go over the records in your Social Security file.

  • I’ll explain how the hearing day will go, and what you need to know.

  • I’ll ask you questions that you may hear from the judge, so you can prepare your answers.

  • You can ask me any questions you have about your hearing, so you can feel more confident going in.

It’s possible that your hearing will include testimony from a medical expert who reviewed your health records. Or the ALJ could ask a vocational expert about the types of jobs you may or may not be able to do.

As your lawyer, I can also ask questions of these experts.

And we may need to consider, in preparing for your hearing, whether you should call any witnesses who personally know you and can talk about how your everyday life and functioning have been impacted by your medical conditions.

Why Your Pre-Hearing Meeting with Your Disability Lawyer Is So Important

This meeting between you and your disability lawyer—taking place six to eight weeks before your hearing—is important for some reasons that you may not have thought about before.

Here’s why:

  • By this time, we’ll be able to see who your disability judge will be.

  • We can prepare for the highly specific ways that some ALJs handle hearings.

  • When we go over your Social Security file, you may be able to easily spot missing information and call my attention to it.

  • We have time, at this point, to correct any missing documentation in your file.

  • I can observe how you answer questions and guide you on how best to communicate with the judge. (Judges generally prefer testimony that is direct and concise.)

  • Listening to you talk about your health problems and their effects on your daily life helps me sharpen my legal arguments for why you should win benefits.

While most people get denied for disability benefits at first, the ALJ hearing may be your best opportunity to finally get approved for benefits.

It’s your only chance to explain in person, face-to-face with an important decision-maker at Social Security, how your health problems make working impossible for you.

So much is at stake. If you can win benefits after your hearing, and get monthly disability benefit checks, you can hold on to a greater degree of financial stability and independence in your life.

So when you’re hearing is coming, let’s get together—and get prepared.

Written by Tim Geary.

Disclaimer: Blog entries are not intended to be a substitute for actual legal advice. It is important for a representative to understand the specific facts and circumstances of your case before they can provide you actual legal advice. If you have questions about your Social Security Disability benefits, please contact a qualified representative to discuss your case.

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