Tennessee Social Security disability hearings

The first step in the process of pursuing your Social Security disability claim is to submit an application that is evaluated by a claims examiner. That examiner (who works for a state agency rather than the Social Security Administration) makes a decision on the basis of reading your claim and your medical records, but without seeing you.

And the claims examiner denies Social Security disability benefits 60% to 65% of the time.

The next step is an appeal to an Administrative Law Judge, and that process is very different. The judge (who is employed by the Social Security Administration) holds a hearing that you attend so that you get an opportunity to talk to the judge. And Administrative Law Judges approve most Social Security disability claims.

The basics of a Social Security disability hearing

  • The hearing will be held in a small, informal room with a conference table.
  • The hearing will be private. The main people in the room will be the judge, an assistant to the judge, your attorney, and you. There may also be some witnesses, or the witnesses may be kept waiting in another room.
  • The judge will try to make you feel comfortable, and will want to talk to you in an informal way.
  • There is no “other side” so no one will be arguing against you.

What testimony the judge will want to hear

The advantage of a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is that you and your attorney get an opportunity to talk to the judge. At the initial claim stage the claims examiner grants or denies a claim on the basis of what the medical records suggest to be your “residual functional capacity.” However, at an appeal hearing the judge will listen to your own description of your condition.

The judge will probably begin by asking about your age, education, and work experience. Then the judge will want to know about your medical condition, including your past problems and treatment history, and your current symptoms.

Before the hearing, the judge will have read your claim form and your medical records, so he or she will already know the background. However the judge will want to hear your explanation, both to be sure that the information in the file is up-to-date, and to be able to get to know you and to see how believable you are.

When you testify

You may be nervous about the idea of talking to a judge at a hearing to decide whether you will be granted disability benefits. However, remember: (1) this is not a courtroom and there is no “other side” that will attack you, (2) the judge is honestly trying to learn everything about your condition, and (3) your attorney is sitting next to you and will help if you need it.

When you testify, you should be respectful, and thorough. Most of all, you want to be honest. You should not exaggerate, but also you should not leave things out. Be as complete and accurate as you can when you describe your disability.

Get help from a Rogersville Social Security disability lawyer

When you appear before an Administrative Law Judge at a Social Security disability hearing you want to present your case in the best possible way. The best way to be assured of this is to have the help and guidance of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.

If you are not already represented by a Social Security disability lawyer, consider asking for our evaluation of your claim. Give us a brief description of your claim using the form in the right sidebar, or you may e-mail or call our office.

Mark Albert Skelton
Tennessee Social Security disability attorney

Contact me

Law Office of Mark A. Skelton
121 South Depot Street
Rogersville, TN 37857