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Worst Case Scenario
So, let’s say you applied for disability benefits and your initial application was denied. Then you appealed through the ‘reconsideration’ process and your application was denied a second time. You are still able to have your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge. This is called a second level appeal. You should prepare for this like you would any important date in your life.
Most people are intimidated at the thought of speaking before a judge. Accept this and perhaps practice speaking to yourself in a mirror prior to the hearing so you can see what you look like when you are responding. Practice asking yourself questions and crafting a response. That way you will not be speaking ‘off the cuff’ where there is a greater chance you will make a mistake or ramble on. Remember the judge is really there to continue the SSA’s attempt to deny your benefits so you must have a proper defense prepared. Consider the hearing an opportunity to explain your disability in detail and in person. You have the ear of an authoritative figure that has the opportunity to decide in your favor and overturn the previous decision to deny you benefits. It might help you to know that more people are granted their benefits by a social security disability judge than in the initial application.
Suggestions to Prepare for the Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
1. Be prepared. If you are not prepared there is a very good chance you will miss this last opportunity to receive benefits.
2. Have your doctor or doctors prepare personal letters to the ALJ iterating the reason you are unable to work or keep gainful employment. This may be the most important piece of paper you take with you to the hearing. It should be persuasive and authoritative.
3. Be proactive. Begin a journal that catalogs your daily events and how the disability affects you. Make sure that it is detailed enough to include dates, times and problems. Also, chronicle the level of pain you feel on a scale of 1 to 10.
4. Be sure to include supporting information such as if you required the help of another person to complete an activity usually considered a sign of independence.
5. Explain your reasons for being house-bound and how that affects you physically, socially and emotionally.
6. Do not look for work or do any type of side-jobs. This will be cause for the SSA to deny you benefits. After all, you say you CAN’T work but you manage to find something!
For more information visit the Social Security Administration website for Bangor, Maine.