Common Questions to Prepare for at Your ALJ Hearing
Posted in Social Security Disability on January 29, 2018
In pursuing your disability benefits claim, expect the administrative law judge (ALJ) to ask questions at your hearing. The judge is attempting to assess your disability and how that affects your ability to work and carry on in your daily life. Being prepared beforehand to answer questions allows to answer those questions clearly. It also offers insight for the judge to understand your condition. The Nashville personal injury lawyers at our Tennessee law firm can help you prepare for your hearing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our attorneys for a free case evaluation.
The judge will begin by asking you to state your name, address, and Social Security number. There will also be personal questions about your height, weight, and age. Additionally, the judge will ask about your education and any vocational training. This information is important for determining whether you can continue at your current job or whether there are other jobs more suitable for you considering your disability.
The judge will ask questions about your work history. Be prepared to speak about the jobs you have worked over the past 15 years. Be specific about your job duties, detailing the circumstances under which you were sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and the skills necessary for each job. Expect questions regarding how long you can perform these activities, how much you can carry, and how far you can travel without resting.
You will need to talk about any attempts you have made to work since your disability. Explain what your job duties were, how long you were at the job, and why you were unable to continue to perform the job.
Medical Condition and Pain Levels
As you may expect, a great deal of the questions the judge will ask you will center on your medical condition. When you answer these questions, be clear and explain specifically how the disability affects your life. Try to give details, especially as to how this disrupts your ability to work. Be as specific as possible about the nature of your disability and the limitations it places on your life and avoid vague answers.
A judge will likely ask you about your pain level, especially in cases involving chronic pain. You need to be able to describe your pain on a scale of one to 10. Because a rating scale can be subjective, it may help your case to supply details of what constitutes pain at a level one verses level 10. Such descriptions can help a judge take your suffering more seriously. For instance, if you suggest your pain levels for walking are a six, and, before your disability, a six would mean a fall from a flight of stairs, the judge can determine that walking – a skill necessary for most jobs – must be considerably painful. Consider just what pain levels mean for you specifically.
Effect on Your Life
The judge will ask you questions about how your disability directly affects your life outside of work as well. He or she may ask you to describe your daily activities from the time you wake up until you go to sleep at night. To prepare for these questions, it is a good idea to keep a daily journal for a few weeks before your hearing detailing every activity from waking up to sleeping. Include specific information about how you slept, what pain you experience throughout the night and day, and what you do to alleviate the pain.
Expect questions regarding your mental health as well as your physical health. If you have difficulties with depression, anxiety, or trouble concentrating, try to offer specific examples of these and whether a doctor has diagnosed you with any other mental issue.
Though the questions a judge asks you won’t be tricky or confusing, you are still stating your case for disability. Preparation with the help of a Nashville social security disability lawyer will allow you to communicate the problems your disability cause you clearly and accurately.