Serrano Law Firm, LLC

Call and Speak to a Person, Not a Machine

Connecticut Personal Injury & Accident Lawyer Blog

860 236-9350  ▪  800 856-6400

690 Flatbush Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06110-1308

27 Holmes Avenue, Waterbury, CT  203 756-6100

      Skill                            

   Determination       

                        Experience 

Home
Attorney John Serrano
Personal Injury Accidents
Bankruptcy
Business
Criminal Law & DUI
Divorce & Family Law
Immigration
Real Estate
Social Security Disability
Waterbury Law Office
CONTACT US
Our Staff
Portuguese Pages
Spanish Pages
Site Map

690 Flatbush Avenue West Hartford, CT  06110-1308

860 236-9350             800 856-6400  toll free     860 523-9101  fax

27 Holmes Avenue Downtown Waterbury 203 756-6100

 

Social Security Disability.  Connecticut: Hartford, Waterbury, New Haven, New Britain,  Manchester, Willimantic, Norwich, New London
 

 

The Social Security Disability Hearing

    As a Connecticut and Massachusetts Social Security attorney, I am aware that many Social Security Disability or SSI cases go through 3 steps before getting approved:

bullet

(1)  The initial Social Security Disability or SSI application.

bullet

(2)  A first appeal.
bullet

For cases filed before August 1, 2006, this appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration.

bullet

For cases filed after August 1, 2006, this appeal is called a Request For Review By A Federal Reviewing Official.

bullet

(3)  A second appeal, which is a hearing before a Social Security judge.  To get this hearing, it is necessary to file a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge.

    As shown in the chart below, about 64% of people who apply for Social Security Disability or SSI are denied at the initial level.  Not everyone appeals from the denial of their initial application.  Persons who do appeal have their best chance of winning their case at a hearing before the Social Security judge.  The chart shows that judges approve about 63% of the cases that they hear.

Percentage of Social Security Disability and SSI Cases Approved at Each Level

Initial Application Reconsideration Level Hearing Level

Approved

CT Social Security Attorney, Find a Lawyer for SSI Disability.  Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain, New Haven

Denied

Appealed

Approved

Disability Lawyer. Social Security Attorney. SSI Disability Claim.  Social Security Disability Attorney. Connecticut, Massachusetts.

Denied

Appealed

Approved

Social Security Attorney.  Waterbury, Torrington, Bristol, New Britain, Meriden.

Denied

36% 64% 34% 14% 86% 86% 63% 37%

 

    Because a hearing before a Social Security judge may often be your best opportunity for winning your case, it is important to hire an experienced Social Security attorney to represent you at the hearing.  The sooner you hire a Social Security lawyer after you request a hearing, the more the lawyer can do to help you with your case.

 

What an Experienced Social Security Attorney Will Do For You

    An experienced Social Security Disability attorney will do the following to give you the best chance of winning your case:

bullet

Make sure that the Social Security judge has all the medical records and other written evidence necessary to best present your case.

bullet

Plan a strategy to fit your case into the rules that Social Security has for approving disability cases.

bullet

Meet with you before the Social Security judge hearing to let you know:
bullet

Who will be at the hearing.

bullet

What kinds of questions to expect at the hearing.

bullet

What is the important information in your case that you should make sure to tell the Social Security judge.

bullet

What the judge is like.

bullet

At the hearing, ask you and any other witnesses questions so that the Social Security judge has the information he or she needs to best decide the case in your favor.

bullet

Present an argument to the Social Security judge, before and/or after the judge hears the witnesses, as to why you should win your case for disability and / or SSI.

bullet

Know when to keep quiet.
bullet

An experienced attorney often is able to "read" the Social Security judge and evaluate the evidence to get an idea if the hearing is going in your favor.

bullet

If the hearing seems to be going well, a good lawyer knows that the best strategy is often to keep quiet in order to keep additional information from being presented that may just confuse the Social Security judge or make your case seem more problematic than it really is.

bullet

An inexperienced lawyer (or a lawyer that likes to hear himself or herself talk) may needlessly keep a Social Security Disability hearing going and run the risk of having things come out that will just complicate a case.

 

What the Social Security Disability Hearing Will Be Like

    Social Security Disability and SSI hearings are closed to the public.  The only people present at the hearing will be you, your attorney, the Social Security judge, the judge's clerk, an interpreter if necessary, and an expert vocational and/or medical witness that Social Security has hired for the hearing.

    Unlike a court case where there is usually an attorney representing the other side who will try to ask you questions to make it seem that you are lying, confused or exaggerating, there is no attorney for the other side at a Social Security hearing.

    Social Security hearings usually take about an hour.  The judge usually does not announce his or her decision at the hearing.  Instead, the judge mails a written decision to you and your lawyer within a few weeks after the hearing.

    You will be nervous at the Social Security hearing.  Everyone, including the judge, expects you to be nervous.  Because you will be speaking about your medical conditions and other personal matters at the hearing, you may get embarrassed, upset and even cry.  This is expected and happens quite often.  The Social Security judge will let you take a break so that you can compose yourself and go on with the hearing.

    If you have low back or other physical problems that make it difficult for you to sit for a long time at the Social Security hearing, the judge will allow you to stand up and stretch a little.

    You and the other witnesses will be asked to take an oath to tell the truth at the Social Security hearing.

    Some Social Security judges like to ask most or all of the questions.  Other judges will want your attorney to ask most of the questions and then may have other questions for you.  If there is a medical or vocational expert, the Social Security judge may ask the expert if he or she needs any more information from you before testifying.

    More and more, at Connecticut and Massachusetts Social Security hearings, experts or interpreters are not physically present but take part in the hearing by telephone.

    Hearings may held by video conference.  This is a new and growing trend at Connecticut and Massachusetts Social Security hearings.  You and your attorney may be in a hearing room with a Social Security clerk while the judge will be in a in another city, perhaps with an expert witness.  There will be a video camera link between the two Social Security hearing rooms.

    Social Security Disability and SSI hearings are recorded.  An audio recording is made in case of an appeal of the judge's decision.  Because the hearing is recorded, you should be keep the following things in mind at the Social Security Disability hearing.

bullet

You must answer out loud and in words.
bullet

If you shake or nod your head, your answer will not be recorded.

bullet

If you say "uh-huh" or other sounds that are not words, the recording may not be clear.

bullet

You should speak loudly so that the recording is clear and everyone in the room can hear your answers.
bullet

There will be a microphone at the hearing but it only records your voice, it does not make your voice louder.

bullet

I always tell my client to speak as loudly as I speak at the Social Security hearing.

bullet

Speak loudly even if you are speaking with someone sitting next to you, such as an interpreter or your attorney.

bullet

You should describe things with words instead of just pointing or making gestures at the Social Security hearing.
bullet

If you are asked where you have pain and you point to your low back and say "here," the audio recording will not show where "here" is.

bullet

Instead, say "I have pain in the middle of my lower back" or "in my right knee" or in whatever body part you want to identify.

bullet

Only one person should speak at a time during the Social Security hearing..
bullet

If two or more people speak at the same time, the recording will not be understandable.

bullet

If you know what a question will be before the question is finished, wait until the question is finished so that the recording is clear and complete.

bullet

If you are using an interpreter, wait until he or she finishes interpreting even if you understand the question in English.

bullet

If you are using an interpreter and need to give a long answer, stop if the interpreter begins to translate so that he or she can translate that part of your answer before you continue with the rest of your answer.

 

What Kinds of Questions Will You Be Asked at the Social Security Hearing

    The specific questions that you will be asked will depend on your individual medical and/or psychiatric conditions.  In general, you will most likely be asked the following 3 types of questions at a Massachusetts or Connecticut Social Security Disability hearing..

bullet

Questions about your background, such as:
bullet

When and where you were born.

bullet

How far you went in school, whether you had any technical vocational education, and perhaps whether you had special education classes.

bullet

What kinds of jobs you had during the 15 years before you became disabled, including:
bullet

The type of work you did.

bullet

How heavy your work was, including how much weight you had to frequently lift and carry and the most weight you had to frequently lift and carry.

bullet

Whether you supervised other people.

bullet

Whether you had to fill out forms, write reports or complete other paperwork as part of your job.

bullet

Whether you left your job voluntarily or were terminated and why you left or were terminated.

bullet

Questions about your daily life, such as:
bullet

What time you go to bed, how well you sleep, and what time you get up.

bullet

With whom you live and how well you get along with them.

bullet

How you pass the day.

bullet

How often you leave your home, how you get around, and the places you go to.

bullet

Whether you visit people and whether people visit you.

bullet

How you get to your medical appointments.

bullet

The types of chores you do at home, including whether you prepare meals.

bullet

The types of daily activities you need help with and who helps you.

bullet

If you take medication, how often you take it and if you need help remembering when to take it.

bullet

Questions about how your medical and/or psychiatric conditions limit you.
bullet

You do not need to know the medical terms for your conditions or the dates of your appointments.  The judge will have reviewed your medical records and know this information.  What the judge wants to know at the hearing is how your medical problems affect you.

bullet

If you have physical problems, you will be asked such things as:
bullet

If you have pain, where you have pain, how often you have it, what the pain is like (sharp, dull, throbbing, etc.), what makes the pain better or worse, what you do to try and control the pain, if medication relieves the pain.

bullet

How much weight you can comfortably lift and carry.

bullet

How long you can stand comfortably in one position before you have to sit down.

bullet

How long you can sit comfortably.

bullet

Whether you need to lie down during the day.

bullet

How far you can walk without stopping.  (Usually it is easier to answer this type of question in terms of time instead of distance.)

bullet

If you have psychiatric problems, you will be asked such things as:
bullet

What kinds of things you like to do.

bullet

How your appetite is and whether you have gained or lost weight.

bullet

How your energy level is.

bullet

Whether you often feel guilty or feel like you have no self worth.

bullet

Whether you can follow along when you are reading or following a program.

bullet

If you ever think of hurting yourself or have tried to hurt yourself.

bullet

If you ever hear or see things that are not really there.

bullet

If you feel comfortable around groups of people.

bullet

If you often feel that people are watching you or talking about you.

bullet

If you sometimes get so overwhelmed trying to complete tasks that you lose your normal ability to function for some time.

 

Why There May Be a Medical Expert at Your Social Security Disability Hearing

    The Social Security judge may have a doctor present at your hearing as a medical expert.  Although Social Security pays for the doctor to be present, the doctor is an impartial witness   neither for or against you.  The doctor is not there to examine you.  He or she is there to review your medical reports and if necessary to help the judge understand any medical terms in the reports.

    The judge may ask the doctor:

bullet

If your condition is so severe that it meets the level of severity listed by Social Security for your condition.

bullet

If your condition equals the required level of severity.  To equal a listing means that your condition does not meet the technical requirements of the listing but that your medical signs, symptoms, laboratory findings and physical or mental limitations are similar to those required by the listing.

bullet

What limitations you are likely to have as a result of your medical problems.

    After the judge asks the doctor questions, your attorney will have the opportunity to ask the doctor additional questions.  This can be particular important if the expert has given answers that have hurt your case.

    Some judges usually like to have medical experts at the hearing.  Other judges will just have a doctor present if the case has complicated medical issues.

    Regardless of what the medical expert says at the hearing, it is ultimately up to the judge to decide whether or not you are disabled according to the rules for Social Security Disability.  The judge can decide that your medical reports or other evidence are more convincing than the expert's testimony.

 

Why There May Be a Vocational Expert at Your Social Security Disability Hearing

    The Social Security judge may have a vocational expert present at your hearing.  A vocational expert is a person who know the kinds of jobs that exist across the nation and in your state.  The expert can provide information about how much skill, education, physical force and concentration is necessary to do different kinds of jobs.  Although Social Security pays for the vocational expert to be present, the expert is an impartial witness   neither for or against you.

    The judge may ask the vocational expert to:

bullet

Describe the skills that you would have learned in the jobs that you held.

bullet

Describe the physical and mental requirements of your jobs.

bullet

Say whether a person with physical and/or mental limitations similar to yours would be able to do any jobs that you did during the past 15 years.

bullet

Say whether a person with physical and/or mental limitations similar to yours would be able to do any jobs that exist in reasonable numbers in the nation or in your state.

    After the judge asks the vocational expert questions, your attorney will have the opportunity to ask the expert additional questions.  This can be particular important if the expert has given answers that hurt your case.

    Some judges usually like to have vocational experts at the hearing.  Other judges will just have an expert if the case has complicated vocational issues.

    Regardless of what the vocational expert says at the hearing, it is ultimately up to the judge to decide whether or not you are disabled according to the rules for Social Security Disability.  The judge can decide that your file has evidence that is more convincing than the expert's testimony.

 

When You Need a Western Massachusetts or Connecticut Social Security Lawyer,

Rely on Us for Skill, Determination and Experience.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY / SSI

Hartford Social Security Attorney

Waterbury Social Security Attorney

New Haven Social Security Attorney

CT Social Security Disability Attorney

Springfield, MA Social Security Attorney

Social Security Disability.  Connecticut: Hartford, Waterbury, New Haven, Bridgeport, New Britain, Meriden, Middletown

Disability Attorney / Children's SSI Attorney

Spanish Spoken, Hablamos Espanol  CT Social Security Abogados SSI - Hartford, Waterbury, New Haven, Springfield, MA  Hartford Social Security Disability Lawyers.  Spanish Spoken. Waterbury, New Haven, Springfield, MA

Portuguese Spoken, Falamos Portugues CT Social Security Disability Advogados - Hartford, Waterbury  Brasil (Brazil) - Advogados Social Security Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury

 

Attorney John Serrano - Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Immigration, Workers Compensation.  Hartford, Waterbury

Please note that our law firm's website is designed to provide only general legal information.

This information is not intended to be legal advice for your individual situation.

Call us for personal injury, Social Security, divorce, bankruptcy, immigration, workers compensation and criminal cases.

Portuguese  Falamos Portugues - Advogados, Hartford, Waterbury  Brasil (Brazil) - Advogados Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury      Spanish  Puerto Rico - Se Habla Espanol - Abogados Hartford, Waterbury  Peru - Hartford Abogados de Inmigracion  Mexico - Connecticut Abogados Hartford, Waterbury

Attorney John Serrano