Disability Attorneys in Indiana | What goes on at an Indiana Social Security disability hearing?
Our Disability Attorneys in Indiana are here to help you throughout your entire process and have compiled the following to keep you informed. When you first file an Indiana Social Security disability claim, the process is very bureaucratic, without much human interaction. There might be an appointment with an Indiana Social Security disability representative to help in completing the disability application, but sometimes applications are filed out online. In any case, once the application is completed it goes to a claims examiner who (along with a doctor) makes a decision based on the written application and medical findings, without seeing or talking to you.
But if the Indiana Social Security claims examiner denies the claim, the hearing procedure on appeal is much different.
The appeal hearing is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge who meets with you and your lawyer and listens to testimony about what you can and cannot do. That means that you actually get to see and talk to the person who will make the decision about your disability claim.
This type of hearing improves your chances of getting your claim accepted, and it is critical that you have a disability attorney in Indiana / disability attorneys with you.
An Indiana Social Security disability hearing is not like a court case
Although a disability hearing, in Indiana and across the country, is run by a judge (or at least an Administrative Law Judge, which is similar, but not exactly the same as a regular judge), and you will be represented by an attorney, it is very different from a court proceeding.
First, there is no opposing side. In a court case there are plaintiffs and defendants opposing each other. Nobody opposes you in your Social Security disability hearing. It is basically you, your attorney, and the Administrative Law Judge.
Second, the atmosphere is very informal. In a court case the courtroom is very formal and sometimes imposing, with the judge up on a raised and impressive desk, tables for the two sides, and special areas for juries and witnesses. A Social Security disability hearing is held in a relatively plain room, with simply a small table for you and your attorney and the Administrative Law Judge (and any possible witnesses).
Third, the hearing procedure is informal. In a court case with opposing sides everything is run through the attorneys according to strict rules, and the different attorneys will object if they think that something is happening that doesn’t comply with those rules. Your Social Security disability hearing will be much more comfortable, and is often a fairly pleasant experience. The Administrative Law Judge talks directly to you and your attorney, and does not get wrapped up in legal concepts like the admissibility of evidence or the standard of proof.
When you testify at your Indiana disability hearing
Usually, Indiana disability hearings begin with the Administrative Law Judge making a brief statement about the purpose of the hearing, explaining the history of your claim and describing how the hearing will be conducted. The judge will also “swear you in,” so that you promise to tell the truth. After that, things can vary because each Administrative Law Judge does things a little differently, but the judge might ask your attorney to make an initial statement, or might deal with any witnesses that you have.
However, at some point the judge will probably talk directly to you and ask you questions. Sometimes judges will have your attorney ask you questions, but most judges prefer to do it themselves.
The idea of being asked questions by a judge sounds intimidating, and your first reaction might be to be nervous about this. However, remember, this is not a court hearing, there is no “other side,” and the judge is honestly interested in you and is trying to learn the facts of your situation.
Also, you have your Indiana disability attorney there, and your attorney will help you if you need anything.
The types of things that the judge will probably ask about are:
- Your age, education, and job training.
- Your work experience.
- Your medical history. (The judge will have already read your medical records, but he or she may still ask a few questions to be able to understand it better.)
- Your current treatment.
- Your symptoms.
The judge is trying to learn about you and your disability, and you want to give honest and complete answers. Remember, this is not a court case. Don’t argue, just explain. And don’t exaggerate. Give all the facts and give them as clearly and completely as you can, and then trust that the Administrative Law Judge will do a good and fair job evaluating your case.
Be comfortable with your Disability Lawyer in Indiana
Even though the disability hearing process is informal and not as uncomfortable as court hearings, it is still very important to be represented by a knowledgeable Indiana disability lawyer that you trust.
I am experienced in helping Social Security disability claimants in Bloomington and Columbus Indiana and throughout Central and Southern Indiana through this process.
If you would like my assistance with your claim, please write or call me using the contact information below, or complete and submit the free claim evaluation form to your right.
Gene Arnholt, Attorney at Law
Disability Lawyers in Indiana
In Columbus call 812-376-6011
In Bloomington call 812-323-3332
Elsewhere call 1-888-ARNHOLT (888-276-4658)
Serving Social Security disability claimants in Columbus, Bloomington and throughout Central and Southern Indiana