Obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) often requires attending a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). For many veterans, it may take as long as two years from the date of an initial application to finally have the chance to tell their story to an ALJ. For this reason, it is essential for former servicemembers to learn about this process from an attorney before requesting or attending an SSDI hearing.
An SSDI hearing gives you an opportunity to tell your story to a judge in person. This means that you must be prepared to speak about your medical conditions and how they affect your ability to hold a job. This can include submitting medical records ahead of time and providing in-person testimony to answer an ALJ’s questions.
Only after a veteran receives at least two denials and completes all necessary paperwork will they even be eligible to request a hearing. The purpose of an SSDI hearing is for an ALJ to determine the impact of a veteran’s disabling conditions on their ability to maintain gainful employment.
The judge is not bound by the prior decisions of the SSA and will look at all the evidence in the case, ask the veteran direct questions, and make their own determination on their eligibility for benefits. For this reason, it is especially important to be prepared to answer questions in an effective and convincing manner.
The goal of an SSDI hearing is to convince an ALJ that a disabling condition prevents a former servicemember from performing any full-time job. However, this can be more complex than it appears.
The ALJ must first examine the medical evidence that documents a veteran’s medical conditions. The judge will read the former servicemember’s entire medical history, identify whether the injury occurred while on active duty or not, and determine if additional treatment would help the applicant return to work. Ideally, the ALJ will find that the veteran is unable to perform the duties of any available employment opportunities due to a disabling condition.
To aid in this assessment, the judge may require testimony from a vocational expert who can evaluate the applicant’s past work and provide their opinion on whether there are any other jobs that may be appropriate given the veteran’s limitations. A former servicemember will also have the chance to question this expert witness and provide any additional information that they feel would bolster their claims. In all, an SSDI hearing takes around one hour, and judges usually issue a final ruling within 30 days.
Veterans may suffer from a variety of physical, mental, and chronic conditions that affect their ability to work. If you are unable to maintain a full-time job due to a disabling condition and you have earned enough work credits to qualify, you may have the option to pursue benefits from the SSA.
Unfortunately, obtaining these disability compensation is notoriously difficult. Many veterans receive multiple denials for their claims. However, this is necessary to obtain the right to request an SSDI hearing.
At this hearing, an ALJ will evaluate your claim in person and give you the chance to explain why your medical conditions prevent you from performing full-time work. Reach out to us today to learn more about SSDI hearings.