A Social Security lawyer can assist

Many people seeking Social Security Disability benefits in Illinois will not receive approval during the initial application. Instead, they may have to appeal the decision multiple times. After the second denial and appeal, SSD applicants must appear before a judge during a disability hearing. As any Social Security lawyer can attest, people who are prepared for this hearing are more likely to see a favorable outcome.

Gathering evidence

After a claim has been denied, the Social Security Administration stops collecting medical records. By the time the disability hearing takes place, the medical records the SSA possesses may be outdated. Applicants should obtain current records before the hearing. Applicants can keep one copy and submit another to the hearing office.

Before obtaining the records, applicants should review their case files and see which records they need. Applicants can also look for missing documentation or mistakes made during the initial decision process. This can help applicants present a stronger case at the hearing.

Each applicant should also obtain a detailed statement about his or her functional capacity from a doctor. The statement should describe the condition and its specific disabling effects. A treating physician can write a letter or complete a Residual Functional Capacity form, which is the form the SSA uses when evaluating an individual’s functional abilities.

Answering questions

During the disability hearing, applicants may need to answer questions from a judge and a vocational expert. Applicants should be prepared to give concise accounts of the following:

  • Symptoms of the condition. Applicants should avoid exaggeration or vagueness. Rather than saying a condition causes terrible pain, the applicant should describe the location, duration and severity of the pain.
  • Daily limitations. Illustrative examples are preferable to broad statements. For example, to show the cognitive impacts of a condition, an applicant could talk about difficulty completing or focusing on specific activities, such as paying the bills.
  • Work history. This information helps the judge determine whether a person can perform work he or she performed in the past. If so, the claim will be denied. Applicants should provide accurate information about the duties and physical or mental requirements of each job.

Applicants should also be ready to explain potentially harmful facts in their case files. These could include failure to seek treatment, deviations from treatment protocol or struggles with the overuse of medication. Applicants should note the reasons for their actions or the steps they have taken to remedy the issue.

People who are represented should work with their attorneys to understand the hearing process and prepare for potential questions. An attorney can also acquire necessary medical records, leaving the applicant more time to focus on getting ready for the disability hearing.