How to answer the ALJ’s questions at your SSDI hearing

| Sep 16, 2020 | Social Security Disability

You’ve waited months (maybe even longer than a year) for your hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) over your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim. You’re understandably nervous that you may say the wrong thing when you’re asked a question and tank your claim.

The more you prepare for your hearing, the more confident you’ll feel when it comes time to answer the most common questions the ALJ is likely to ask. Typically, you’ll be asked to do things like:

  • Explain your medical conditions and how they keep you from working. Remember to always keep your focus in that direction. For example, if you’re asked, “Why can’t you work?” Don’t answer something like, “Nobody will hire me.” While it may seem clear to you that your disabilities make you unhireable, you want to offer the ALJ specifics about your limitations.
  • Describe your employment history and the requirements of your work. The ALJ can ask about your last 15 years worth of work, so be ready to explain the basics of your job. Don’t just state your position at each place. Instead, talk about how long you stood or walked, what you lifted, what mental concentration the job took and so on.
  • Talk about your day-to-day limitations and activities. Again, specifics matter. Don’t just tell the ALJ something like, “I sleep a lot.” Instead, explain that your chronic pain prevents you from doing housework or cooking, and that the side-effects of your medication make your drowsy and interfere with your ability to concentrate or remember new information.

Remember: You don’t have to handle the hearing in front of the ALJ alone — and you shouldn’t. An attorney can protect your interests and advocate for you throughout the SSDI appeals process.

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