It depends. If they normally use an assistive device to stand and walk, then they should bring it. Some people are concerned that the judge will think that they are faking or exaggerating their disability, but we really do need to show the reality of the situation. A claimant should never bring any sharp objects to a hearing—not even nail-clippers, pocket knives or lighters. In some courtrooms, liquids and food items are not allowed. If I have told a client to bring a witness, then they should bring that witness.
Where Is The Actual Hearing Held?
They are held in different offices in different cities all over the state and all over the nation. Sometimes they will have remote hearings where they will rent a hotel room where hearings are held. Those are more of the exceptions and they are done to accommodate people who live in rural areas that cannot travel this part of a big city and so they will accommodate them and have remote hearings but sometimes they will have a VTC hearings, video teleconference hearings where you go to a certain hearing office and you are there but the judge is in a different city or state and the hearing is conducted on a video screen, so you are communicating via video conference.
What Are Some Pitfalls To Avoid At Your Social Security Disability Hearings?
Giving a judge an answer you think they want to hear, overthinking, overanalyzing every single answer because the judges can smell that and I think the best testimony is spontaneous, authentic and truthful and testimony that sheds light on your disability. Coming into hearing reeking of tobacco or alcohol, wearing clothing that is inappropriate. Sometimes people have to wear, for example, slip-on shoes because their feet swell. I will just let the judge know that you are not trying to be disrespectful of the court but that these are the only kinds of shoes that your feet can fit into, or if somebody is homeless and they are wearing tattered clothes, sometimes they will ask a judge to excuse their appearance because these are all the clothes they have.
Do You Run Into Issues Where People Either Minimize Or Exaggerate Their Symptoms?
Oftentimes, people simply do not express themselves in a way that the judge can understand, and so the judge may perceive them to be minimizing or exaggerating their symptoms. Everyone feels physical or emotional pain differently, so it just depends. Again, it is extremely important to meet with an attorney who is able to assess the testimony and help the client express themselves in a way that is clear, direct, and truthful.
What Happens After The Hearing? The Hearing Is Now Over, What Is Next?
If the judge is still waiting for a properly notified evidence, then we will be submitting additional evidence. After all the evidence is in, then what usually happens is the case is put into a decision writing process. The case will go into a pool of writers and it will depend on what writer the claimant draws. Some writers are slow so it is going to take longer to get a decision out, or some writers are fast so they give them more cases and then they have a bigger caseload, or the writers go on a vacation, that could also affect the time that it takes to get the decision written. Once the decision is written, it goes to the judge for approval and signature. Once that happens, then the decision is issued to the claimant and their representative and that can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days.
The reason for that is that Social Security is dealing with a backlog of one million cases right now. So, the Congress has recently passed some legislation that will allow Social Security to deal with the backlog and I am not sure how that money is going to be distributed if they are going to be hiring more judges and more staff but they are underfunded and they are understaffed. So, that is part of the problem as to why it takes so long to get a decision.
For more information on Necessities At An SSD Hearing, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (214) 373-3761 today.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.