Your hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

Mar 07, 2011 No Comments by

The hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is nothing to be frightened about. The most important factor is honesty.  The hearing is informal and there will be few individuals present during the hearing. Your attorney, the ALJ, the hearing reporter and possibly a vocational or medical expert will be present.  The hearing reporter helps the Administrative Law Judge by making an audio recording of the hearing. The vocational expert will testify in response to hypothetical questions that the ALJ asks him or her about your past work and other jobs that you may or may not be able to do.  A medical expert, if used by the ALJ, will testify regarding your medical impairments.

Some ALJs like to open the hearing by asking you questions about yourself, while other ALJs allow your attorney to ask questions first and then they will ask follow up questions. Your hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge will most likely last between 30 – 45 minutes. During the hearing the ALJ or your attorney will ask you questions about your symptoms and any limitations you have on your daily activities caused by your impairments.

The key to answering these questions is to observe yourself in your daily life prior to your hearing. For example, do you have problems standing up to wash dishes due to pain? If so, do you have to sit down, take a break and then resume at a later time? These types of questions will surely arise at the hearing and you must be prepared to discuss your limitations honestly and without exaggeration.  Below is some more information from the Social Security Website regarding your hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

“At the hearing, the administrative law judge will question you and any witnesses you bring. Other witnesses, such as medical or vocational experts, also may give us information at the hearing. You or your representative may question the witnesses.

In certain situations, we may hold your hearing by a video conference rather than in person. We will let you know ahead of time if this is the case. With video hearings, we can make the hearing more convenient for you. Often an appearance by video hearing can be scheduled faster than an in-person appearance. Also, a video hearing location may be closer to your home. That might make it easier for you to have witnesses or other people accompany you.

It is usually to your advantage to attend the hearing (in person or video conference). You and your representative, if you have one, should come to the hearing and explain your case.”

via The Appeals Process.

After the hearing, a decision is made by the ALJ within 30-60 days. If you lose at hearing, you can appeal to the Appeals Council (AC) and also open a new claim with the Social Security Administration if applicable.  Your hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge is something that you should prepare for, but not worry about.



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About the author

Kim obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Law Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a strong advocate for the rights of the disabled and worked in the past for the North Carolina Department of Justice. She is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives. Kim is admitted to practice in the Eastern and Middle Districts of the United States District Court.
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