What to expect at your Arkansas Social Security disability hearing
Unless you are an attorney, you will probably find that your Social Security disability hearing is not quite like anything that you have been to before.
Some people expect the disability hearing to be similar to the initial Social Security disability claim process. Others expect it to be like a courtroom trial. However, it is very different from both of those things.
What the Social Security hearing room will look like
Your Social Security disability hearing will have a judge, and that judge will issue a decision, much like a judge in a courtroom. However, the room will not look much like a courtroom.
A courtroom is very formal, with a large bench for the judge, a nearby box for witnesses, and separate tables for attorneys from both sides.
In contrast, a Social Security disability hearing room is very informal. The 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).
There is no “other side” so there is no separate table for an opposing attorney.
Who will be at your Social Security appeal hearing
There will only be a few people in the hearing room with you. There is no jury and there will be no audience. The main people (and often the only people) will be:
- The Administrative Law Judge.
- An assistant to the judge (who will record the hearing).
- Your lawyer.
There might also witnesses who will testify during the hearing. However, the judge may prefer to have the witnesses wait in different room, and only bring them into the hearing room when they testify.
There are two types of people who might be witnesses: witnesses that you bring who will testify for you, and special experts that the Administrative Law Judge might ask to testify.
The witnesses that you invite might be family members, friends, or co-workers who can testify about your disability. Your lawyer will help decide what witnesses will be needed.
The witnesses that the Administrative Law Judge might request are a vocational expert or a medical expert. These people might appear in person, or they might be connected through video teleconferencing or just by telephone.
What will happen at your Social Security appeal hearing
Since there is no “other side,” there will be no one at the hearing who will oppose your claim and argue against you. Instead, the hearing is designed for the Administrative Law Judge to learn the facts and make a decision.
To some extent the procedure can vary because it depends on how the Administrative Law Judge wants to handle things. However, hearings are always fairly informal, and judges try to keep you comfortable during the meeting.
Most of the time, the first thing that happens is that the Administrative Law Judge starts by talking about the purpose of the hearing, and then reviewing what has gone on so far with your claim.
Next, either the judge might ask you some questions about your condition, or the judge might allow your attorney to ask you those types of questions. After that, if there are any witnesses, they will then be asked for their testimony.
Most Social Security disability hearings go quickly, and they usually are finished in less than an hour.
Have an experienced Fayetteville Social Security disability lawyer with you
Even though the Social Security hearing process is informal and the judge will try to put you at ease during the hearing, it is extremely important to be represented by a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney that you trust.
I am experienced in helping Arkansas Social Security disability claimants through this process and would like to hear from you.
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 on the top of this page.
Fayetteville Social Security disability attorney
Thurman & Flanagin
1148 E. Stearns
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
105A Passion Play Road
Eureka Springs, Arkansas 72632