As discussed last week in this blog, it is important for Georgia residents to have an opportunity to set things right after mistakes happen. This includes reversing an improper denial of Social Security disability benefits, which can involve multiple appeals to fix.

One crucial step in the appeals process is having a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing can be requested if the applicant for SSD benefits disagrees with the agency’s decision to deny benefits.

Typically, a hearing is held within 75 miles of the person’s home. The individual will receive notice of the time and place of the hearing.

The hearing itself is an important opportunity to provide evidence satisfying the medical requirements for obtaining disability benefits. Evidence can come in multiple forms, including documentary evidence like medical records that demonstrate a person’s medical treatment for the disability involved in the matter.

Testimony is also frequently presented at the hearing from a variety of individuals. Along with the medical records, medical experts may testify to explain the person’s condition and how it has limited their functional abilities. Other witnesses may also be able to speak to these issues, like those who have personal knowledge of the individual’s disability and the effects it has had on them.

Vocational experts may also be called to testify about issues relating to the person’s job. For instance, the vocational expert may be able to identify what requirements are present for a particular job, and whether similar jobs exist in the economy.

The bottom line is that the hearing is a vital opportunity to present this evidence and obtain disability benefits. By being prepared for the hearing and knowing how to properly present this evidence, individuals can dramatically increase their odds of obtaining benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Your right to question the decision made on your claim,” accessed on April 16, 2016