If you can’t work because of a disability, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits to help individuals with disabilities cover basic living expenses.

The process of applying for and receiving benefits isn’t always straightforward. If the SSA doesn’t approve your initial application, you may have to participate in a hearing with an administrative law judge.

At Disability Advocates Group in Florida, we have experience helping clients like yourself prepare for their hearings. If you have legal representation during a disability hearing, you may have a better chance of receiving approval. Contact us today to learn more about what a Florida disability hearing lawyer can do for you.

When the SSA Denies a Disability Benefits Claim in Florida

According to the SSA, approximately 22 percent of Social Security disability benefits applicants receive approvals on the first try. The SSA denies the majority of initial applications. Understanding your options if the SSA denies your first application is essential.

You may have up to four chances to address a denial. Options when the SSA denies an application for disability benefits are:

  • Asking for a reconsideration — Your first option is to request that the SSA reconsider your initial application. You must submit a request for reconsideration within 60 days of the SSA issuing its decision.
  • Requesting a hearing — After reconsideration, you may still receive a denial. When this happens, your next option is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge. Similar to the above, you must make your request within 60 days of receiving a reconsideration decision.
  • Requesting an Appeals Council review — If the administrative law judge doesn’t decide in your favor, you can request a review with the SSA’s Appeals Council. The typical 60-day deadline applies.
  • Filing an action in federal district court After exhausting all these methods, your final option is to file a civil suit in federal court. You have 60 days from receiving the Appeals Council’s decision to do so.

What Does a Disability Hearing Involve in Florida?

The specifics of a hearing with an administrative law judge can vary depending on the particulars of your case. However, the process generally involves the following:

  • Preparation — After you submit a request for a hearing, the SSA may ask that you provide additional documentation. You may also use this time to learn why the SSA denied your claim in the first place. For example, if the SSA denied your claim due to insufficient medical evidence, you can prepare by gathering more evidence. You can submit proof yourself, or a legal representative can submit new evidence on your behalf.
  • Notice The SSA typically notifies you of a hearing date at least 75 days in advance. The notice provides information about when and how to attend your hearing. Follow the instructions carefully and thoroughly to avoid jeopardizing your rights. If you cannot attend the hearing on the assigned date, contact the SSA promptly to discuss rescheduling it.
  • Hearing An administrative law judge will typically review the details of your case and may ask you questions throughout the hearing. A legal representative can help you prepare accordingly or speak on your behalf during a hearing. If you’ve brought additional witnesses to a hearing, the judge may ask questions of them, too. The judge might also ask questions of any witnesses they’ve requested to participate in a hearing.

The administrative law judge will review the evidence and issue a decision upon the completion of the hearing. You will receive a mailed copy of the decision, and if you’ve hired a lawyer, they’ll also receive a copy.

What Types of Questions Does an Administrative Law Judge Ask During a Florida Disability Hearing?

The questions an administrative law judge asks will depend on the witnesses participating in your hearing and the specific details of your case. The questions they ask you will usually focus on these topics:

  • The type of work you’ve previously done before a disability prevented you from working
  • The nature of your medical condition
  • The way your medical condition affects your daily life and physical abilities

Never walk into a disability hearing unprepared. By thinking about the types of questions an administrative law judge may ask, you can prepare thorough answers ahead of time.

Preparing for a Disability Hearing in Florida: Tips to Keep in Mind

Along with coming up with answers to potential questions, other ways you can prepare for a disability hearing include:

  • Make sure medical documents are up-to-date The medical documentation you provide and reference during a disability hearing should be the most current form. Gather this documentation before your hearing.
  • Keep a record of your daily activities — Because the judge may ask you how your disability affects your day-to-day life, it’s wise to keep a journal or video log in which you document the effects of a disability.
  • Continue receiving treatment — This is a critical suggestion to remember at any stage of the process. Always adhere to treatment plans when seeking disability benefits.

Contact a Florida Disability Hearings Lawyer

When applying for disability benefits with the SSA, it’s crucial to remember that the SSA tends to deny initial applications. Hiring an attorney from the start might improve your chances of receiving an approval.

However, you can hire a lawyer at any stage in the process. Even if you didn’t hire us when you first began applying for benefits, our team at Disability Advocates Group in Florida can help you prepare for a hearing and provide representation during the hearing. We can also assist you with your next steps if you still receive a denial. Contact us online today for a free case review to find out more about what a Florida disability hearing lawyer can do for you.