Preparing to Attend Your Disability Hearing
Attending a disability hearing in New Jersey draws out nerves. But, being prepared and knowing what to expect ease this anxiety. Also, taking advantage of your right to representation at the hearing helps as well.
The denial process for disability begins with a request for reconsideration. If denied a second or even third time, an administrative hearing offers the best chance of a favorable decision. Typically, hearings occur after several denials.
Why Attend the Hearing?
Attending the hearing increases the likelihood of benefits being approved. This appointment allows you to plead your case directly with the decision making judge. Though a less ideal option, you may request attending the disability hearing via video teleconference if you are unable to be present personally.
What Happens at the Hearing?
The atmosphere of disability hearings is informal and non-adversarial. In other words, the proceedings are more like a simple question and answer session in a conference room than Court TV.
You, your attorney or representative, the administrative law judge (ALJ), the hearing assistant and any witnesses you choose to bring are present at this private proceeding. The length of the hearing varies. And, a neat, clean appearance is recommended.
A few things to keep in mind when attending a disability hearing:
- You testify on your behalf. In other words, you answer the questions asked by the judge or your attorney.
- No attorney for the “other side” is present to intimidate you.
- Whether the judge or your attorney asks questions depends on the judge’s preference.
How Do I Prepare?
The simplest way to prepare for attending a disability hearing in New Jersey is to know yourself, your condition, work experience and medical history. You gathered most of this information for the original application. Simply review your answers and refresh your mind.
However, over-rehearsing decreases your credibility. The judge wants to see your sincerity, not a well-polished, coached presentation. The point is for the ALJ to better understand you and your case in order to make an informed decision.
Also, remember, telling the truth is important. In fact, taking an oath promising to tell the truth opens the proceedings. Neither inflated details or underplayed difficulties help your case. And, if you do not know or remember the answer to a question, simply say so.
Be sure to bring photo identification with you when attending a disability hearing. And, gather any new medical records your attorney does not currently hold. If you are representing yourself, gather all medical documentation which you provided for the original application and any new records.
However, keep in mind the peace of mind that comes from attorney representation when attending a disability hearing.