When dealing with a Social Security Disability hearing, many people aren’t actually sure what to expect out of the proceedings. You might be expecting the type of courtroom proceeding you see on television: big wood-paneled rooms, the judge sitting on an elevated platform, a jury, and an opposing lawyer. It’s an intimidating image to say the least.
In reality, a Social Security hearing is much more akin to a conference room meeting than an episode of Law and Order. Usually there are only a handful of people in the room. Other than yourself and your attorney there is also likely to be a court reporter—who is responsible for keeping a written transcript of the proceedings—and a judge. There may also be a vocational expert whose job is to be a resource for the judge. However, more often than not, they will be on speakerphone rather than in the hearing.
Compared to the courtroom you might see on TV, a social security hearing is likely going to feel very informal. The judge will likely ask you questions directly. They could be about anything ranging from your daily life to the nature of your injury to the type of work you were doing before the onset of your disability. There are very few limits to the kinds of questions the judge can ask you, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. You may be surprised about what kinds of evidence are allowed in a Social Security Disability hearing as the rules are very different than they are for other court proceedings.
The most important thing you can do when undergoing a Social Security Disability hearing is to find an experienced attorney who can help you through the process. The mish-mash of regulations surrounding a Social Security Disability hearing are complex and don’t follow a logical structure. Having an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process will ensure that you fully understand the proceedings. Don’t go into a hearing alone, make sure that you have an attorney who’s fighting for you and your rights.