Preparing for Your Social Security Disability Hearing Part 2

Transcription Part 2

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What Is The Goal Of Your Answers to Questions at Your Hearing?

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In asking those questions the judge or I are wanting you to explain and to tell the judge basically how active you are. What kinds of things do you do around the house, if any, who does the household chores. The judge wants to figure out what you can do even if you’re not working. Again, this is not the time to be too proud to admit that you’re not able to do very much at home if that’s the case.

Many people who are applying for Social Security Disability Benefits need to lie down some during the day, whether it’s lie down in a bed or get horizontal on a couch or get in the old Lazy-Boy, that kind of thing. If you need to do that typically on an average day, if you usually are not able to go, for example, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., the kind of hours associated with a normal workday shift without needing to lie down, it’s important that you explain that to the judge.

If the judge understands that you really need to do that, whether it’s because of pain or because you can’t sleep at night because of your health problems, or perhaps the side effects of medications, if the judge understands that you’re not able to go those eight or nine hours from 8:00 to 5:00 or 9:00 to 5:00 without needing to lie down, that alone may be a reason why the judge will approve you.

Should You Mention Side Effects of Your Medications at Your Hearing?

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I mentioned side effects of medications. Oftentimes medications that a doctor prescribes for you in order to help you with your pain or to control the symptoms of some of your medical problems, oftentimes those medications have side effects, which would make it even harder for you to work. Pain medication often makes it hard for us to think straight. Pain medication often makes us drowsy, makes us sleepy and makes us need to lay down some during the day.

Other medications have different side effects. You may be asked by the judge, “Do your medications give you any side effect?” If the judge asks you that question that’s what he’s trying to figure out. He’s trying to figure out whether you take any medication that has side effects that make it harder for you to work. When a judge decides whether or not to approve you for disability benefits he has to take all of these things into consideration, your age, your education, your previous work experience, all of your medical problems, side effects of medication, not just physical problems.

Can You Get Disability for Emotional & Mental Problems?

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Of course the physical problems such as bad backs or diabetes or heart problems, but also emotional problems. If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, we’ll need to talk about that. The judge needs to understand if those things are going on. I’ve won many cases for many clients who have nothing wrong with them physically at all, but they’re suffering from serious depression or anxiety or other kinds of emotional or what they call mental impairments, which make it impossible for them to work. I know it’s no fun to talk about these things, but I again remind you the door will be closed, these hearings are confidential. No one will hear about what you say at these hearings, but we do need to explain to the judge why you are unable to work.

Why Does the Judge Ask Questions About Gallons of Water?

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Another line of questioning that is common at these hearings is for the judge or for me to ask you about how much you can lift or carry. The judge may want to know if you can carry things that are 10 or 15 or 20 pounds or heavier. A lot of us don’t think in terms of how many pounds we can lift at one time, so I’ll just give you an example. A gallon of milk or water weighs about 8 ½ pounds. If you think about that and think about could you lift and carry one or two gallons of milk or water, not just to pick it up one time, but if you had to do something during the day that would require you to pick up that kind of weight frequently. Of course, tell the judge if you can, but even though 10 pounds doesn’t sound like very much, with carrying that kind of weight of a gallon of water or milk as an example would be difficult for you, whether your back or your shoulder or whatever, then try to explain that to the judge.

What Happens After Your Social Security Hearing?

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Lastly I’d like to speak a bit about the process of what happens at the end of the hearing. Sometimes at the end of the hearing the judge will say whether or not he or she will approve you, but oftentimes the judge does not say that clearly. About half the time at the end of these hearings I think I know what the judge is going to do. If I know that based upon what was said at the hearing I will tell you that afterwards. Many times we just have to wait for the decision. Typically these judges come from out of town, do one hearing after another all day for about four or five days during the week, and then they go back to their office and send out their decisions.

Nothing is official until it’s in writing. We usually have to wait anywhere from two weeks to two or three months sometimes for the written decision. As soon as it’s received you and I can talk about it. If the decision is favorable it usually then takes other parts of the Social Security Administration two or three months at a minimum to do the calculating and figuring out how much retroactive or past due money you’ll be eligible for and how much you’ll receive each month as a monthly check.

If the decision is unfavorable we have a right to appeal and we’ll talk about that. I hope this message has been helpful to you. It is my plan that after you watch this message we’ll talk about it and I’ll ask you if you have any questions and we can talk about some more particularities or circumstances of your particular case. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to help you. Thank you.