I've been denied social security disability twice now, and have scheduled a hearing in front of the ALJ. Should I get a lawyer at this point?
If your application for Social Security disability is denied, after requesting a reconsideration, you can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will review all the medical evidence that has been submitted and any testimony offered at the hearing and issue a decision as to whether your claim should be approved.
You are not required to hire an attorney to help you with your claim, but the assistance of an attorney who specializes in disability law is invaluable when faced with a hearing in front of an ALJ. Here are some of the reasons why.
A disability attorney will be familiar with what test results or functional limitations the ALJ wants to see for your particular medical condition. The lawyer can request and review the exact medical evidence needed to support your claim and then submit the necessary records to the SSA. An attorney can also assist in securing opinions from your treating physician that can help you win your claim.
Perhaps most importantly, the attorney will attend the hearing with you and act on your behalf. Here's why this is important.
A vocational expert (VE) is present at most disability hearings. A VE is a specialist hired by the SSA to testify as to your ability to work. The ALJ will have the opportunity to pose questions (called "hypotheticals") to the VE based on the functional limitations in your medical record to determine what, if any, work you can do. If you have an attorney, your attorney can ask the VE hypotheticals as well. Well-crafted hypotheticals can make or break a hearing. Disability lawyers are trained as to what questions to ask the VE, how to counter any negative testimony presented by the VE, and how to respond to any questions posed by the ALJ to either you or the VE.
To learn more, read our article on how hiring a disability attorney can help you win benefits.