Question of the Month: Who Can Attend My Disability Hearing With Me?

March 4, 2023

As anyone who has applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits will tell you, getting approved can be quite difficult.

According to Social Security Administration statistics in recent years, only about 22% of initial claims are approved, and even fewer are approved on the second stage, called “reconsideration.”

If your claims are denied twice, you have the legal right to present your case at a hearing in front of a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ), and you have the right to have an attorney represent you at the hearing.

The success rate for winning benefits is much higher at the hearing level: 54% of disability cases are won there.

And you have a much better chance of success if you have representation. A Government Accounting Office study found that if a claimant had a representative, such as an attorney at their hearing, they were nearly three times more likely to be allowed benefits than someone who had no representation at all.  Without a doubt, the hearing is an important part of your disability claim.

Many people are surprised to learn that a hearing before a Social Security ALJ is typically informal.

The hearing will be held in a conference room, not a courtroom or courthouse. Disability hearings are not held in public where anyone can attend. Usually you, your attorney, the ALJ, a court reporter, and sometimes a medical and/or vocational expert will be the only people in attendance. Others can attend and even give testimony, but only with your permission. For more on what to expect at your hearing, read this blog post.

It is often helpful and important to have a witness with you at the hearing, such as a family member, friend or caregiver, if they can bolster your claim. To be effective, these witnesses must be able to testify about how your impairment affects your daily activities and most importantly your ability to work.

At Nash Disability Law, we prepare our clients prior to a hearing, and we will help prepare any witnesses that you would like to testify. We can also help you to decide whether having a particular witness will be beneficial to your claim.

The road to Social Security Disability benefits is long and difficult to navigate. When you reach the hearing level, your chances of getting your claim approved are at their highest. There are four main reasons why you should hire a lawyer for your Social Security Disability case.

  • Your lawyer will prepare you and any of your witnesses prior to the day of the hearing.
  • Your lawyer will help collect the right evidence to support your case and get it to Social Security in a timely manner.
  • Your lawyer can help you understand the paperwork involved and the questions the judge is going to ask you.
  • At your hearing, your Nash Disability lawyer will be there right beside you to fight for your rights and to explain your situation under Social Security’s rules.

Nash lawyers attend these hearings every day and represent clients at each of the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana hearing offices. They know the judges, the type of evidence they are looking for, and the testimony they want to hear.

For a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case contact us at Nash Disability Law.