By the time a Social Security Disability claimant finally reaches the hearing, their imaginations have had plenty of time to run amuck. Often, they walk into a hearing expecting to see a room full of people like they see on TV. They expect to see a judge and a slew of onlookers to make a judgment. However, this could not be further from the truth of what an SSD hearing looks like.
There will almost always be at least three people present in the room. They include the Administrative Law Judge, the claimant, and a hearing reporter who will record and transcribe the testimony. Usually, the judge is not there in person but appears by video. They will be seen and heard through a TV screen. If a claimant is represented by an attorney, they will also be present. With new technology in some law offices, the claimant and attorney may also appear by video from the attorney’s conference room. In these cases, all videos are bridged together where all participants can see and hear each other.
Many hearings also contain a Vocational Expert. This is a person who is considered an expert at classifying jobs and determining whether certain jobs could be performed under certain hypothetical criteria. In addition, a Medical Expert may also be scheduled to testify. This will be a licensed medical physician or mental health expert who is qualified to testify on the claimant’s impairments and abilities, or lack thereof. Often, both of these experts testify by phone.
A Social Security Disability hearing is actually an informal proceeding. It is simply a question and answer process in which a claimant has the chance to tell their story. Except under extenuating circumstances, a hearing can be expected to last 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many experts are needed to testify. Retaining the services of a qualified disability attorney can help ease your mind and understand what is to be expected.