Social Security Benefit Denial Hearings

The social security disability hearing stage can be extremely stressful, involving quite a bit of time, effort and frustration.  Specifically, there are several steps involved in the hearings process, and having an experienced SSDI benefits attorney by your side can help improve your chances of prevailing on your claim.  An overview of the steps before, during and after the SSDI benefits denial hearing is as follows:

The Pre-hearing Stage

At the pre-hearing stage, you should receive a notice of hearing about twenty to thirty days prior to the date your case is set to be heard.  Before the day of your hearing, it is strongly recommended that you submit to the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) Office of Adjudication and Review any new medical documentation that you may have, such as your physician’s most recent medical records.  The presiding Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ, will want to review these records, which should not be more than ninety days old.  Most ALJs prefer to examine new information before the hearing date so that they can prepare certain questions that they will ask you during the hearing.  In the event that you cannot provide new medical information prior to the day of your hearing, you can still bring it with you on the actual hearing date, which is certainly better than not submitting anything at all.

In addition, you or your attorney can also submit a brief in support of your position, which is a short document demonstrating why you should prevail on your SSDI benefits claim.  You should definitely submit your legal brief at least ten days before your hearing date so that the ALJ has sufficient time to review and consider your arguments.  In the event that you are seeking to establish that your medical condition falls under one or more of the SSA’s disability listings, (a list of impairments that the SSA considers as serious enough to entitle a claimant to receive SSDI benefits), you must provide sufficient medical documentation to substantiate your position.  It is highly recommended that you or your attorney refer to your medical records in support of this argument.  Overall, an SSDI benefits attorney can certainly assist you in drafting a brief, gathering the evidence necessary to support your claim, and also, to help you get the benefits that you deserve.

During Your Hearing

During your hearing, it is important to keep in mind that this is a legal proceeding, which requires you to wear appropriate clothing, be on time, be respectful to the ALJ and representatives from the SSA, and follow all of the ALJ’s directions during the entire process.  While the final decision in your case certainly depends upon the weight of your medical evidence, it is nonetheless helpful to make a good impression on the court.  As every experienced SSDI benefits attorney knows, doing these things can sometimes make a difference in your case.

While at the hearing, the ALJ will likely ask you certain questions based upon his or her review of your file, including the information that you provided before and/or during the proceeding.  Be sure to review your application and its supporting documentation prior to your hearing date so that you are prepared to answer questions posed by the SSA.  For instance, if you claim to suffer from depression but do not take any medication to treat this condition, you may be asked to clarify this discrepancy.  In general, it is highly recommended that you work with a seasoned SSDI benefits attorney, who can add significant value to your case by helping you know what to expect and to prepare you for every line of questioning.

In support of your SSDI claim, you can also ask individuals who are familiar with your injuries to serve as a witness during your hearing.  Typically, it is certainly appropriate to have one or two witnesses attest to the physical and/or metal difficulties that you face on a daily basis that stem from your medical condition.  Specifically, each witness should testify about your physical and/or metal abilities and any associated limitations.  An SSDI benefits attorney can be extremely helpful at this stage of your case, given that they know the right questions to ask of your witnesses regarding your alleged medical condition and any limitations that stem therefrom.  For instance, a roommate or spouse may be the perfect witness given that they are in the best position to attest, i.e., to your alleged inability to perform certain basic tasks, such as household chores.

During the hearing, a vocational expert (“VE”) may be called by the SSA to render an opinion regarding what jobs they, in their opinion, believe you can do.  Having an SSDI benefits attorney can certainly be useful in refuting the VE’s testimony and also, in asking the right questions.


After your hearing, you still can ask the ALJ permission to submit a supplemental brief to clarify certain points raised during the proceeding.  In the event that the ALJ allows you to do so, you should submit the document as soon as possible and also, address only the questions that you were specifically allowed by the ALJ to clarify.   While you have the right to submit said brief on your own, having an attorney assist you with it is extremely helpful, given that they are specifically trained to draft these types of documents and to refine the arguments in support of your case.

In light of the above, we at the Sanger Law Office are highly experienced in handling SSDI benefit denial hearings.  We can also review your application for SSDI benefits prior to submission, assist you in submitting a request for reconsideration of a denial, or represent you in a formal appeal of your denial of SSDI benefits.  Ms. Sanger provides thorough analysis of her clients’ medical records and zealous advocacy to assist her clients in obtaining the benefits they need to care for themselves and their families. The Sanger Law Office is centrally located in Lawrence, KS and represents those denied social security disability benefits in Kansas and Missouri. If you have been denied SSDI disability benefits or just have questions about your rights to SSDI, you should contact Danielle Sanger today for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.  We look forward to helping you get the benefits that you deserve.