If your initial Social Security Administration disability application and request for reconsideration are denied, the next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This is your chance to come face-to-face with the person deciding your claim. The hearing is closed to the public and conducted in an informal setting. An assistant will be present to record everything.
You will be seated with your attorney. Social Security may bring a medical and/or vocational expert. The judge will introduce everyone and require all testifying individuals to give an oath to tell the truth. Then, the hearing begins.
Your attorney may give an opening statement. Then, the judge or your attorney may ask you some basic questions about your age, work history, and medical impairments.
If a medical expert is present he or she will testify for SSA. It is his/her job to review medical evidence and find if your impairment meets one of SSA’s listed impairments. If the expert concludes that you meet one, you win the claim. If you do not meet one, the judge will ask the expert what activity you can still do with your impairments. Your attorney may also question the medical expert about his/her opinion.
SSA may also bring a vocational expert. He or she will be someone who knows what jobs are available and what skills they require. If so, the judge will try to decide what work you can still do with your impairment. Your attorney may also question the vocational expert about what work someone with your impairment can do.
At this point, your attorney may offer a closing statement. The judge may make a decision at this time, but it is more likely that you will receive a written Notice of Decision in the mail about 2 months after the hearing.