Clients often want to know what they will be asked at their disability hearings. As your attorneys, we will fully prepare you for the issues that may arise in your specific case, but there are a few questions that are almost always asked.
Areas Typically Covered at Every Social Security Disability Hearing
When you are prepared for what you may be asked, you can feel more confident about your hearing. As general preparation for your disability hearing, you can be pretty certain that you will be asked about the following four areas of your life.
Your Past Work
The Judge will likely ask about any jobs you have had in the past 15 years. You won’t be required to memorize dates—the ALJ will have your earnings record on his or her computer. You will be expected to explain the physical and mental requirements of each job you have held. For example, you will be asked how much you were required to lift, stand on your feet, and walk. Other physical requirements of each job will also be relevant to this testimony. The Judge may ask whether or not advanced training was required, whether or not you worked around co-workers or the general public, and how long the training period lasted. The Judge will also ask what physical and mental difficulties, if any, you had at each position. Part of the Judge’s task is determining whether or not you can still do any of the work you’ve done in the last 15 years. For that reason, a good description of past work is required.
Your Current Physical and Mental Conditions
This is the main reason you’re at the hearing—to explain how your condition affects your ability to work. You will have an opportunity to describe all of your conditions, both physical and mental, and what limitations each presents. The Judge will be interested in specific estimates of your abilities. For example, if you have a condition that affects your ability to walk, the Judge may ask you to estimate how far you can walk at one time before needing to stop. In most hearings, you may be asked to estimate how far you can walk, how long you can stand, how long you can sit, and how much you can lift. You may also be asked if you have any other limitations, such as climbing stairs, working with your hands, or raising your arms above your head. With regard to mental health conditions, you may be asked if you have difficulty with simple instructions, working around people and the general public, or accepting criticism from supervisors. The Judge will consider all your allegations in determining your residual functional capacity—what you are still able to do despite your conditions.
Your Daily Life
This is the category that sometimes takes people off guard. The Judge will ask about your day-to-day life. Some Judges will ask you to describe a typical day from start to finish. You may also be asked about specific activities of daily living, such as the ability to prepare a meal, perform chores in the house and yard, drive to appointments, perform personal hygiene tasks, and go grocery shopping. You will have the opportunity to explain if you require assistance for the completion of these activities. Here, the Judge is seeking an overall understanding of how your conditions affect your daily life.
Use of Drugs and Alcohol, and Your Compliance With Treatment
If you have any history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or non-compliance with medical treatment, it is very likely the Judge already knows about it through the examination of your medical records. As you will be sworn by oath to tell the truth under penalty of perjury during your testimony, you should be prepared to discuss these issues openly and honestly.
Keller & Keller Will Make Sure You Are Prepared
While this is not an exhaustive list of all issues that will be discussed at your disability hearing, these are the four main areas of inquiry based on our experience representing hundreds of clients at disability hearings in Indiana. When you work with our Social Security Disability team, you can be sure we will do all we can to ensure a successful hearing. Contact our Indianapolis office to learn more.