There are plenty of opportunities for your Social Security Disability claim to be approved prior to going before the administrative law judge for a hearing. However, for the majority of Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and other disability benefits claims (80%+), a hearing before the administrative law judge will be necessary in order to continue your disability claim.
While this step may be intimidating, properly preparing for the hearing can ease this intimidation and improve your chances of a successful outcome.
At Gold, Khourey & Turak, we have a proven process that properly prepares your claim for hearing and provides you the best chance of winning benefits. We may be the best social security attorney for you. Contact us today for a free review.
Reviewing Your Social Security Record
The first step in this process happens continually throughout the life of your claim, or at least it should, and the best social security disability lawyers do this. However, this is often not the case if you are not working with an experienced social security disability attorney, so be aware. This first step is ensuring that all the necessary medical records have been requested from your various healthcare providers and from any facilities that have treated you. These records must be provided to the Social Security Administration in a timely manner, so any delay in requesting these records can significantly impact your claim.
The truth is, while you can add a lot of useful and important information to your Social Security claim during your hearing through testimony, your claim is only as good as the medical records available for the administrative law judge to review. Simply put, the administrative law judge cannot consider health conditions, illnesses, or problems that are not supported by medical records and/or that you are not seeking treatment to attempt to improve. This is regardless of what you may tell them or testify to at a hearing.
In order to know what medical records from your various providers and/or facilities are needed, you must review the records Social Security has already compiled throughout your claim. There are several ways you may get access to these records from Social Security (you can request a CD with your record up to that point from Social Security or gain access to it online with a my Social Security account). Until you or your social security attorney review your records thoroughly, you cannot truly know what providers’ and/or facilities’ medical records Social Security has obtained on your behalf.
In addition, while you may have expectations as to what medical records should have already been included, there is no set standard for what all a provider or facility must maintain or provide. Therefore, you should review the records in detail to ensure nothing has been left out. It’s possible that you may need to request additional information and records from other sources in order to have a complete record for the administrative law judge to work with. This need is not something you want to find out at the last minute.
The process of obtaining medical records can be long and complicated, and often takes months to request and receive the proper documentation. At Gold, Khourey & Turak, our attorneys and staff have decades of experience working with health care providers to ensure these records are obtained and submitted to Social Security in a timely and appropriate manner.
As we move closer to your social security hearing date, a few weeks out to be exact, it is important for you to understand what to expect from the hearing. What type of questions might you get asked? What type of information is valuable to discuss? Are there any issues that need to be addressed during your hearing so your claim can properly proceed?
Without an experienced social security lawyer, it is difficult for you to anticipate these questions and issues. We meet and discuss all these things to ensure that you are comfortable about the upcoming hearing, that you understand what questions are likely to be asked of you, and that you are aware of any issues that might need addressed at the hearing.
While I do my best to prepare you for the hearing, I simply cannot prepare you for everything that might come up, nor will I tell you exactly what to say. I will, however, prepare you for what types of information we need to cover. If any issues are likely to need addressed (i.e. you have work earnings, your record contains evidence of drug use, etc.), I will make sure we are properly prepared to discuss them with the administrative law judge. I will also ensure that your file is complete with all necessary medical records. Further, if there are any outstanding medical records to consider, I will inform the Social Security Administration and the administrative law judge of them so they can be considered later when they are able to be provided.
Testimony preparation is extremely important. This is the most effective way to provide you with all the information that could be covered at the hearing and make you feel more comfortable in the process. In addition, this provides you (the client) the opportunity to develop your story, your experience, and work out any details that might be beneficial to your claim.
GKT Client Perspective
Earlier this month I received a very kind letter from a client who had just gone through their Social Security administrative law judge hearing with me. I cannot explain the preparation meeting any better than the client has in this letter. My client gave me approval to post the letter, but the names have been changed to keep our client’s information confidential:
I have been intending to write this letter for quite a while. I wanted to let you know at Gold, Khourey and Turak what an excellent job Mr. Potts did for Brenda and me during Brenda’s recent application for Social Security Disability. Our first meeting with Mr. Potts, some months ago, was very helpful. He went over the procedure with us, explaining the process and answering all our questions.
When we came together at your office in Moundsville on May 5 of this year to go over the actual court procedure and what we could expect to happen. I was expecting a quick, proforma meeting, a half-hour or forty minutes at the longest consisting of a fairly superficial and “efficient” [read: short] meeting, filling us in on just the basics followed by a quick adjournment. That was definitely not what happened.
The meeting lasted two and a half hours and, in that time, without ever slowing down or appearing to be tired or impatient, Mr. Potts took us through every aspect of what we could expect to happen during our “phone call hearing.” We went through the form of the hearing, the order in which the process would proceed, i.e. the “administrative part,” then what Mr. Potts would say, then they would get to Brenda followed by the “vocational expert” part and so on. I’m not sure if things went exactly according to that sequence on the day of the phone call, but just knowing what to expect went a long way to relieving Brenda’s stress (which was considerable).
After this part, Mr. Potts went through some of the questions that Brenda could expect to hear. This took a long time because, as usual, he did not cut any corners. First the “soft ball” question: Where do you live? Do you have a driver’s license? Do you have any income? Then we went on to the more difficult questions which was very helpful because this gave Brenda a chance to go over in her mind what she would need to remember on that day. Throughout the meeting, Mr. Potts was constantly addressing questions of “process” (what does our application have in common with all the other applications for disability, as well as those features that made Brenda’s application different from all the other applications). This aspect of the meeting probably accounted for the majority of the two and half hours but, I would say, was the most important and helpful.
To make a long story short when the meeting was over Brenda and I were both exhausted, but exhausted in a good way. By the time we adjourned, I was very impressed (not to mention surprised) by how much time and care Mr. Potts devoted to our case. I have had experience with attorneys who were billing us directly who spent less time and thoroughness on the job they did for us.
And so that is why I felt it necessary to write this letter. In my experience, service like this is unusual in any profession so I just thought you ought to know how much Brenda and I appreciate what Mr. Potts has done for us.
As I write this letter, we still have not heard back from the Social Security Administration, not to mention that Brenda thought the procedure did not seem to go her way. But the eventual outcome has no bearing on my opinion of Mr. Potts’ handling of the case. Win or lose, I do not believe he could have done more to affect a favorable outcome.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
As the letter noted, I cannot guarantee a successful outcome for your disability benefits claim. Nor will every single preparation meeting need to last two and a half hours (more commonly they run about an hour and a half). However, I can guarantee that I will work hard to prepare both you and your claim to be successful at all levels of the disability benefits process, including at the administrative law judge level.
This has always been true here at Gold, Khourey & Turak over the decades we have represented social security disability claimants. So don’t go it alone, get assistance in your disability claim from the best social security disability attorney and staff who will work hard for you and to get you the disability benefits you deserve.
If you or someone you know is currently struggling through a claim for Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, VA Disability Benefits, or other disability benefits, call Gold, Khourey & Turak now at 304-845-9750 for your free consultation. You can also Live Chat with us 24/7 on our website or complete our online form and we will reach out to you within the next business day.
I look forward to hearing from you and helping you obtain your benefits.