A person will need to provide mental health information at an SSD hearing, because it is very difficult to differentiate mental impairments from physical impairments. For example, if someone suffers from a lot of pain after having surgery for a back injury, then they might become depressed, unable to sleep, and unable to attend school activities with their children. So, a judge might expect that someone who is in a lot of pain would be depressed, but if that person doesn’t get it taken care of, then how is the judge supposed to measure it? If the person goes to a psychologist or psychiatrist and is treated for that depression, then the judge would have a better idea of how severe the pain is because it would be affecting every aspect of that person’s life.
For individuals who are over 50 years of age, the real crux of the decision is often whether or not they can perform with the skills and mental capacity that they did in the past. If an individual is depressed and has trouble concentrating, then their memory might not be very sharp and they might become irritated more quickly. In many cases, they will be unable to carry out the tasks that they once did. One of our goals in these disability hearings is to show the judge why someone can’t perform the skills that they did in the past. It is not necessary to prove that someone needs to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons in order for it to have a major, positive impact on the case. If we can prove that the individual is more irritable, has concentration or anxiety issues, and can’t function like they could in the past, then that could make the difference between winning and losing a case.
How Do I Know The Answers To The Judge’s Questions At An SSD Appeal Hearing?
There are many different questions that a judge may ask at an SSD appeal hearing. When people have criminal records, they often try to provide a very complicated explanation for why they aren’t guilty, but doing so doesn’t help them. It is important for a claimant to be accurate and honest, but to avoid dwelling on their criminal record. If a person dwells on it, the judge might feel compelled to ask additional questions, which means the person will be spending time talking about something that could negatively impact their case. Towards the end of a hearing, a judge will ask the claimant whether or not they drive, cook, wash dishes, and go to the grocery store. In a strict sense, the answers to these questions would be “yes” or “no.” However, providing such short responses will not help a person’s case; it is better to elaborate on the difficulties that a person might encounter while doing different activities. Many people deny taking part in any of these activities, but an answer like that can backfire, because everyone would like to live in a world where they don’t have to cook, clean, or do dishes. I advise people to explain the different activities that aggravate their condition, or how often they have to take breaks during certain activities. A claimant should view their answers as an opportunity to reiterate to the judge how the pain that they experience prevents them from performing everyday activities, and how it would likely prevent them from performing a job on a regular basis.
Why Are So Many SSD Claims Initially Denied?
One reason why SSD claims are initially denied is because the state agencies that work for Social Security do not obtain all of the available medical evidence. In some cases, doctors may not readily provide these agencies with medical records. Our staff works really hard with multiple follow-up phone calls in order to obtain medical records. In addition, the standards used at a state agency are different than the standards used by a judge at the hearing level. Judges can also apply different rules at the hearing level that the state agency cannot. The statistics show that only about 35 percent of initial applications are awarded disability, while about 10 percent are awarded disability at the reconsideration or second level. The next hearing occurs face-to-face with the person who decides the case. This gives the claimant a chance to look them in the eyes and provide full explanations, which can make a difference.
For more information on Mental Health Information At 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.