Getting denied for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits can be heartbreaking. You’ve spent all this time and effort compiling your medical history and building your case, and now all of that energy seems to be wasted. For many people, this setback is enough to give up. Before you decide to throw in the towel, though, remember that you do have options for appealing that decision.
Along the way, though, there’s a good chance that your case will be heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This ALJ hearing requires you to testify and plead your case in person. As you can imagine, this can be a daunting experience for many who don’t know what to be expect. If you are faced with the prospect of an ALJ hearing for your SSDI appeal, then you might want to know what sorts of questions you might be asked. Here are the sorts of things you can expect.
In order to help make their decision, ALJ judges want to have a complete picture of who you are as a person. Therefore they’ll ask you a series of questions about who you are as a person. This includes your full name, address, Social Security number, age, height, weight and other physical information. In addition, you will be asked about your education level and any specialized or vocational training you might have had. These sorts of questions not only help the judge to see who you are as a person and a worker, but they also help the judge to start understanding how the disability in question is affecting your life and your ability to function as a person, not just a worker.
Another area that the judge will ask you about is your employment history. These questions are important because the judge needs to know how you were employed beforehand in order to assess how your disability is affecting you and your ability to work now. To do this, the judge will ask you about your current employment — are you working now? If so, who is your employer and what is your job? What sorts of physical and mental requirements do you have to have in order to complete this job?
If you are not working now, the judge will want to know if you have tried to work since you became injured or disabled. If so, the judge will ask questions about that — what was the outcome? How successful/unsuccessful was the attempt? Why did it fail? How long were you there?
The judge will also try to get a sense of your work history before your disability or injury, including asking questions about the job or jobs you had before the disability, what skills were required in order to perform that job, what your particular duties your job required, and how much money you made in that job.
Current Medical Issues
The judge will also want to know about your current medical problems and limitations. To cover this, the judge will ask questions about your disability or injury and how it affects your daily life. Although you might think that the judge will only be concerned with how your disability affects your work, the judge will be interested in how every aspect of your life is affected. Can you cook and clean at home? Are you able to drive yourself from place to place, shop for yourself, dress yourself and do other basic home-related activities?
Of course, you will also be asked about how your disability or injury affects your work performance, so be prepared to speak to that as well. Even though you have already addressed this in the medical history you’ve compiled, the judge at this point is more interested in hearing from you, getting the information from your perspective. These sorts of questions can be many and varied during your ALJ hearing, and the judge may ask you questions that you aren’t expecting — like how many bathroom breaks you have to take, etc. Even though some of the questions are out of left field, keep in mind that the judge is trying to assess your ability to work and be gainfully employed.
Depending on your injuries or disabilities, the judge might also ask you about your mental state and how this has affected you emotionally and mentally. Things like concentration, attitude, depression, personality issues and other topics might get covered. Of course, if your disability is mental in nature then you can expect quite a few more questions in this area.
These are just a few of the sorts of questions you can expect to be asked at your SSDI hearing. No matter the questions, though, it’s important to stay honest and calm at all times as you answer. If you would like to know more about how you can prepare for your ALJ hearing, don’t hesitate to contact us!