Gathering evidence for your Social Security Disability hearing

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Social Security Disability

Many New Jersey residents count on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to provide income when they are unable to work for a long period of time. Learning you have been denied SSDI benefits can be a crushing blow, but you have a right to appeal the decision.

After you file your appeal, you will be scheduled for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The idea of attending a hearing and presenting your case can be overwhelming and intimidating. You may have no idea what to expect or how to present your evidence.

Fortunately, properly preparing your evidence for your hearing can ease your anxiety and increase your chance of prevailing.

You will receive a notice giving the date and time of your appeal hearing

Review this notice carefully, as well as all documents in your case file. This should include your application and all communications you have had with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

While you know how your disability impacts your life better than anyone else, it is still helpful to know what is in your case file.

Gather your medical records to use as evidence at your hearing. The hearing is an opportunity for you to present new information to the ALJ that can change their decision on your benefits.

Contact your doctors and other healthcare providers immediately after you receive the notice of your appeal hearing and request your medical documentation.

Request all your medical records, not just records that pertain to your disability

To get a complete picture of your disability, the SSA should have all your medical records.

For example, if you have a major back problem that causes you anxiety, the ALJ should see evidence that is related to both conditions. This helps them see how both conditions could prevent you from working.

This is one of the most important steps to take when preparing for your hearing because there is a rule that requires you to send all written evidence to the ALJ five business days before your appeal hearing.

When you review your appeal notice, learn where and how to send your evidence. If you do not submit your written evidence within five business days, the rules state that the ALJ can decline to consider the evidence.

Your medical documentation could be the key to you securing your benefits. Therefore, you do not want to lose your case because you missed a deadline.

The purpose of the five-day rule is to prevent delays in the process and allow the ALJ time to review your records before the hearing. This works in your favor since the ALJ having an appropriate amount of time to consider your evidence allows you to have a fair hearing.

Additional evidence that can help

Expert testimony or written statements from family or friends about your disability are other strong pieces of evidence. This written evidence must also be submitted to the ALJ within five business days of your hearing.

Your primary care physician is typically your best choice for a medical expert, especially if you have been seeing them for a long time. If they cannot testify for you at the hearing, ask them to write a statement detailing your disability and how it impacts your ability to work.


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