The hearing in front of the administrative law judge (ALJ) regarding your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim is likely to be one of the most significant events of your life. An approval means more financial security for you and your family and medical coverage that you probably badly need in order to get treatment.
That’s a lot of pressure on anybody. It’s particularly stressful when you’re already sick or injured and struggling just to get by. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to prepare for your hearing and know what to expect.
Here are some tips you can use:
Don’t stress yourself out
There are no perfect answers to the ALJ’s questions and no magic formula that will gain an approval for your claim. What you say can make an impact, but the judge is mostly looking to evaluate your character and sincerity. He or she wants to see the “real you” that isn’t easily reflected on the medical records in front of him.
Many medical conditions are hard to document and rely on a patient’s own reported symptoms, so — yes — the ALJ will essentially be trying to decide how honest you are. Stick to the truth, and you’ll be fine.
Know how to talk about your disability and work history
You know how your disability limits you better than anyone — even your doctors. Aim for clarity and details that will help the ALJ understand why you aren’t able to keep working.
For example, be ready to discuss how your physical or mental condition affects you, how your medications affect your ability to keep a schedule or concentrate, how often you experience debilitating pain and what it is like when you do. Be ready to explain to the judge exactly how your life as a whole has changed — including what things you used to enjoy outside of work but no longer do because of your disability. The more personal and specific you can make your story, the better.
Talk to your attorney about the judge
More than likely, your SSD attorney has experience with the ALJ you’re about to see. Every judge is human and has quirks, and you should prepare accordingly.
If you’re having trouble getting your Social Security Disability application approved, contact our office today.