If your Social Security Disability (SSD) initial claim and request for reconsideration were denied, you may have the opportunity to appeal that decision at a hearing before an administrative law judge. If you make it to this stage of the SSD appeals process, you should be prepared for what to expect.

You will be asked questions by the judge

The judge’s duty is to determine the nature and severity of your disability. In doing so, he or she will ask a number of questions regarding your past work duties, physical and mental health impairments, limitations, medical history and other relevant facts.

While it may seem stressful to be under questioning, this is actually a valuable opportunity for you. Prior to this hearing, you were simply an impersonal file number in the SSA system. This is your first chance to present your case as a flesh-and-blood human being who is struggling with a disability. Answer questions honesty and do not sugarcoat the harsh realities of your disability. Doing so could only hurt your chances of gaining eligibility.

Your attorney may also ask questions

If you are represented by an SSD attorney, he or she may also ask you questions at this hearing. This is an opportunity to bring to light factors that have not already be considered by the judge. A skilled attorney will go over the process with you in advance of the hearing, letting you know what questions you are likely to be asked and other aspects of the process.

You may present evidence

It is best to present evidence prior to the hearing so that the judge has time to review it while considering your case. The hearing presents an opportunity to flesh out evidence with testimony, demonstrating the human side of your medical situation.

A vocational expert may also be present

Vocational experts (VEs) are expert witnesses called by the SSA in most disability hearings. VEs are well versed in the job market and the physical and mental tasks associated with various jobs. The VE will address issues such as your ability to perform your job duties or adjust to other work. Their testimony is very important in an SSD hearing.