If you have made an application for a social security disability benefit from the SSA for your lumbar stenosis condition, and had your application rejected, don’t give up.
The reality is that two thirds of all SSD applications are initially denied.
There are many reasons for this, but the important point to remember is that you have the opportunity of having the decision reversed if you request an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing.
This is a formal hearing presided over by an administrative law judge who reviews all the information available about your application.
The good news is that you are likely to be better prepared for the hearing and around 50% of all ALJ hearings are successful.
This means that a request for an ALJ hearing after an SSD application denial is a sensible decision to make.
What to Expect From a Hearing
You, the judge, a court assistant and your attorney will be the only people present at the hearing.
The SSA may have a medical witness present to take part in any questioning about your condition.
The judge will spend some time asking you questions about your condition, medical history, work background, and how the lumbar stenosis has made an impact on your life and work.
If you have an attorney present, (recommended) he or she can speak for you.
The attorney may ask you questions which the attorney thinks will reveal useful information to the judge.
Any witnesses present may be asked questions relevant to your condition and ability to work.
You may be asked to comment further by the judge.
You won’t get a decision made at the hearing and it may take up to 30 days, sometimes longer, for a decision about your claim.
Tips for Success at an ALJ Hearing With Lumbar Stenosis
- You have a better chance of having your original benefit decision overturned if you use a disability attorney to represent you at the ALJ hearing.
- Don’t be late for the hearing. Getting there around 30 minutes before the hearing begins is sensible. The judge may cancel the hearing if you are late.
- Make sure you answer questions as fully and as honestly as you can. It is better to admit you are unsure of the answer or say you don’t know rather than make things up.
- Be specific about the symptoms you experience and how these limit or make it impossible to work.
- Get some practice with your attorney answering likely questions before the hearing.
- You may be asked questions about your medical history and any gaps in it. Go over with your attorney about what to say.
- Describe how your lumbar stenosis is impacting on your day to day life.
Having an Attorney on Your Side Helps
Having a disability attorney on your side can make a significant difference when attending an ALJ hearing.
The attorney will know what is expected at the hearing, prepare you for the sort of questions asked and make you feel comfortable about attending.
Remember you have a better chance of success if you are well prepared when attending a hearing.