How do you prep for an SSDI hearing?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Social Security Disability Claims

The road to approval for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim can be filled with a lot of hurdles – and many applicants are forced to appeal their claims all the way to a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).

Given that the average time span from an initial application to a hearing with an ALJ is about two years, one month and 20 days – you need to walk into that meeting as prepared as possible. Here’s how to start:

Review your case file

Sit down and go through all of the medical records that you’ve submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and look at your denial letters from your initial filing and reconsideration. Look for any missing information or inconsistencies that may need to be addressed.

Practice answering common questions

The ALJ will likely ask you some very direct questions – and they want brief, concise answers. This isn’t the time to get tongue-tied or go into long explanations. Expect to discuss:

  • Your medical conditions: Know how to rattle off your exact diagnosis, how long you have had those particular conditions, and what symptoms they cause. Never assume that the ALJ knows what symptoms you have due to your back injury or depression, for example, even if you think it should be obvious. Every person is unique. 
  • Your limitations: Even more important than your symptoms, you need to be able to articulate exactly how your conditions affect your ability to perform your daily activities and work. Practice explaining how you are unable to cook a simple meal, get groceries by yourself or concentrate through your pain, for example. Be specific and concrete, and use examples.
  • Your work activity: The ALJ may ask you to explain what jobs you’ve performed in the last 10 years, and you need to take the same approach here that you did with your medical conditions and limitations. Be able to describe your actual work activity, not just give your job title.

It takes a long time to get through an SSDI appeal, but you have better odds of success with the right legal assistance.