Many initial applications for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are denied, no matter how strong a case the applicant has. Fortunately, many of these applications are approved on appeal, often after a hearing with an administrative law judge.
Although these hearings are much less formal than a courtroom trial, applicants still need to be prepared. For example, there are various questions the judge is likely to ask the applicant about his or her medical condition and ability to work. It is important to be prepared for these questions, as your answers could help or hurt your chances of receiving disability benefits.
Below, our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers in Harrisburg review some of the questions applicants are likely to be asked at a disability hearing.
If you are pursuing benefits for your disability, you should strongly consider seeking help from a licensed attorney. The process is complex, and without an attorney’s help, details could get missed and hurt your chances of securing the benefits you need.
Questions to Prepare For
The administrative law judge will start with some basic questions, such as asking you your name, age, mailing address, height and weight, along with your Social Security number.
Then the judge will want to get more details about your situation to determine your potential eligibility for benefits. He or she will ask questions about your medical condition, previous employment and ability to work, as these are the central issues when assessing eligibility for benefits.
Some of the questions you may be asked include the following:
- What is your official diagnosis?
- How would you rate your pain from 0 to 10?
- What medical testing have you undergone?
- What treatment have you received?
- Are you taking prescription medication for your condition?
- When did you start receiving treatment?
- Have any of your treatments caused side effects?
- What symptoms limit you in your daily life?
- Are you able to drive a car?
- How does your medical condition affect your daily activities?
- Has your disability made it more difficult to take care of yourself?
- Do you need daily assistance with life activities like showering, getting dressed and toileting?
- Are you working right now? If so, where and what does the job entail?
- Do you need to take frequent breaks?
- Does your medical condition affect your ability to concentrate or remember things at work?
- Have you tried to work since you were diagnosed?
- How much are you able to lift?
- How long are you able to sit, stand or walk without a break?
- Can you safely climb, stoop or bend?
- Where were you working when you became disabled?
- What formal education do you have?
Details About Your Financial Situation
If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the judge may ask various questions about your financial situation. SSI is a needs-based program, so the judge needs to determine if you make too much money to qualify and if you have too many assets.
- Who do you live with?
- What expenses do you have each month?
- What are your sources of income?
- Do you have any investments?
- What are your spouse’s sources of income, if any?
- Do you own a vehicle?
Questions About Alcohol or Drug Abuse
Applicants with alcohol or substance abuse problems may still be able to obtain disability benefits. However, if your case file records show a history of drug or alcohol abuse, the judge is likely to ask questions about it.
The main question for applicants with alcohol or drug abuse problems is this: Is your alcohol/drug issue a material contributing factor to your medical impairment?
If the answer is yes, you are unlikely to be awarded benefits. The answer may be yes if your condition would improve if you stopped using drugs or alcohol.
If the answer is no, you may be awarded benefits if you meet the other eligibility criteria. If you have a drug or alcohol problem in addition to your disability, the two are likely to be considered unrelated.
This is a delicate issue, which is why you need to be prepared to answer questions truthfully and in a way that protects your claim.
Contact Schmidt Kramer to Discuss Your Application for Benefits
Our attorneys have helped countless SSD applicants secure the benefits they need. We are prepared to guide you through each step of the process at no upfront cost to you. Our attorneys work on contingency, which means we do not collect our fees unless you receive disability benefits.
You can learn more about how we may be able to assist you in a free legal consultation. This meeting comes with no obligation to hire our firm to represent you.
Check out our client reviews page to see what past SSD clients have to say about their experience working with our firm.
Schmidt Kramer. We are here to help. Call (717) 727-2669.