ALJ Hearings for SSDI Appeals in Houston
Your Social Security Disability ALJ hearing is coming up. Are you ready to make your case?
If you’re unable to work due to serious health problems, the financial and emotional strain can be tremendous. You’re probably worried about the future and how you and your family will survive.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) could be the answer—providing monthly checks and Medicare health coverage to keep you going—but you applied for benefits and were denied.
Now you’re in the process of appealing the decision, and soon you’ll face a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) at your appeals hearing. You have a lot at stake, including your financial stability and independence, so you need to be ready.
It’s important to find an attorney with experience in Social Security Disability law, someone who can help you prepare your best case and stand by your side during the hearing.
A United States government study found that people with representatives are nearly three times more likely to win benefits in their hearing as those who go it alone.
Every day the Makris Law Firm helps people in Houston and around Texas prepare for ALJ hearings. Let us help you.
Long Before Your ALJ Hearing Date, You Need to Update Your Social Security File
You should review your file with the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible to make sure it’s ready for your hearing. It’s important for you, or your lawyer, to do the following:
- Update your records of medical treatment and any other documents that will help show your medical condition.
- Get a written opinion from your doctor regarding your disability, focusing on what specific physical and mental limitations you have instead of just stating that you have a disability.
- Write a pre-hearing “brief” that summarizes your case, emphasizing what medical conditions keep you from working.
- Prepare for the questions you may be asked at the hearing.
Getting ready for your ALJ hearing can be complicated. Going it alone with so much at stake is not the best course when you can call Makris Law Firm and get an experienced lawyer on your case.
You pay no fees unless your case is approved—and an initial consultation is just a phone call away at no cost to you.
Who Will Be at My SSDI Appeals Hearing?
An ALJ hearing is more informal than you may have imagined. There’s no trial or jury. There’s no lawyer from the SSA to argue against you. The hearing will take place in a Social Security hearing office. You can expect it to last less than an hour.
Besides you and your attorney, others present may include:
- The judge
- The judge’s clerk (assistant)
- A doctor or other medical expert who is there at the judge’s request
- A vocational expert who may talk about jobs you can or can’t do
Social Security does not require you to bring a lawyer to your hearing, but we strongly recommend that you do. Arguments that seem right from a common sense perspective may be the opposite of what you need for a successful legal case.
The attorneys at Makris Law Firm are highly experienced at going through your records and presenting the best arguments based on the hard facts.
What Do I Say at the Hearing?
You’re expected to answer the judge’s questions about your health problems and how they affect your ability to work.
The medical or vocational expert may also raise questions about your eligibility for benefits.
The judge or the expert could ask you trick questions, such as, “If we found you a light work janitor job, could you do it?” Be careful how you answer.
It’s important to be truthful and thorough in describing your medical condition and how it affects your life. Give all the details to explain your responses. Create as clear a picture as possible of what keeps you from working, without exaggerating.
At the Makris Law Firm, we’ll prepare with you before your hearing date so you’re ready for the questions and can speak with confidence. We’ll also take care of cross-examining the experts and helping the judge understand your case.
What Happens After My SSDI Appeals Hearing?
Sometimes the judge will tell you his or her decision at the end of the hearing, but most of the time you’ll also receive written notice of the decision later.
If you’re approved, your benefits will begin soon.
If the judge denies your claim, don’t give up. A denial is not the end. You can take more steps to keep your claim going:
- Appeals Council Review: You can file an appeal with the SSA’s Appeals Council requesting that they overturn the ALJ decision and send the case back for a new hearing.
- Federal Court Appeal: If you’re still denied at the Appeals Council level, you can file a lawsuit in Federal District Court, requesting to grant benefits or to overturn the ALJ’s Decision.
You have a limited amount of time to continue your appeal, so move quickly.
The Makris Law Firm has the experience to take your appeal to the next level. We can help you maximize your chances of winning benefits and moving toward a better future.