What to Expect at a Social Security Disability (Administrative law) Hearing 

For most, the administrative law hearing, and appearing before a judge, is the most intimidating part of the Social Security disability appeal process. While appearing before a judge can be intimidating, this stage of the process is your best chance for getting an approval. What often makes the hearing process so scary is that people do not know what to expect. A disability hearing is very straightforward and includes the same components for everyone going through the process. Here are some of the most important things to know about a disability hearing: 

  • Hire an attorney – a Social Security disability attorney is necessary for this stage of the process, will help you navigate the process, and will give you the best chance of getting approved. Having an attorney can also help get your hearing scheduled faster.
  • Do not assume the hearing will happen right away, it takes 6-12 months for a hearing to be scheduled. 
  • You will get important mail about the hearing that you will have to sign and return. You will ONLY get a mailed reminder of your hearing so make sure to set reminders for yourself. 
  • Many hearings are now phone or video hearings – and you have a choice as to what kind of hearing you want. 
  • If you have an in person hearing, there will be a security guard at the office so make sure to have your ID and arrive early.  
  • There will be five people in the hearing room: 

                                 i. Judge 

                               ii. Court reporter 

                             iii. Vocational expert (likely will appear by phone) 

                             iv. Attorney 

                               v. Yourself 

  • Vocational expert (VE) is there to testify about your past work and what jobs might be available based on your symptoms and limitations. You will not speak to the VE, but your attorney will question them to help your case. 
  • Some judges allow you to have a family member for support, but it is completely up to the judge, and your family member is not allowed to speak. 
  • You will be questioned by the judge and your attorney about your condition, your ability to work, and your activities of daily life. Answer the questions asked and provide as much detail as possible.  
  • Remember that it is your hearing and you can take breaks if you need them, you can ask the judge or your attorney to repeat questions, and it is okay to be nervous. Take your time.  
  • You will not get a decision the day of the hearing, it can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to get your written decision in the mail.