What is a Social Security hearing like?

A hearing will usually last about an hour.  Generally only you, your attorney, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), a court reporter, and a vocational expert are present at this hearing.  Occasionally a medical expert may be called to testify as well.  Depending on the judge, your attorney may be asked to give a brief opening and/or closing statement to explain the reason you are disabled.  You will spend the majority of the time testifying, meaning your attorney and the judge will ask you questions about your condition and how it prevents you from working.  Following your testimony, the ALJ will consider your impairments and determine what you are physically and mentally capable of doing based on your medical records and testimony.  The ALJ will then ask the vocational expert whether a hypothetical individual with your same age, education, work experience, and a set of work restrictions determined by the judge could perform any competitive employment in the economy. It is quite possible that the ALJ will ask the vocational expert a few hypothetical questions with different work restrictions. Depending on the severity of the work restrictions, the vocational expert may testify that the hypothetical individual may be able to work or may be unable to work. Your attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine the vocational expert and ask their own hypothetical questions. Following the hearing, the ALJ will mail a written decision to you with the decision about your disability. In the written decision, the ALJ will explain which set of work restrictions you have and what evidence the ALJ relied on when determining your work restrictions.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience