Transcript of video:
Hi there. This is Jonathan Ginsberg; I’m a Social Security Disability attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. I want to talk to you about hypothetical questions that the judge is going to ask the vocational expert at your Social Security Disability hearing.
If you haven’t yet gone to your hearing, what you’ll find is that the judge will in many cases have a vocational witness there. The vocational witness is typically a person with experience, knowledge, education about jobs in the economy, and is going to testify for the judge about jobs that you might be able to do given the limitations that may exist in your record. [Read More...]
In this video I talk about failed back syndrome, which describes a medical condition where you are no longer a surgical candidate and your only treatment option is long term pain management.
When you file for disability, the Social Security intake clerk will ask you for a specific date when your disability began. Similarly, if you file online, you will have to choose a date when you became disabled. In Social Security terminology, this date will be known as your alleged onset date (abbreviated AOD).
Like many elements of Social Security claims, SSA offers no real guidance about how to choose an onset date. Ideally, your onset date should be that date when you no longer have the capacity to perform substantial activity (full time work) because of a medical condition or conditions.
Most of the time, SSA personnel will advise you to choose a date after you stopped working – typically the day after you terminated your employment. This “last day of work” choice usually works but what if you stopped working full time 6 months earlier and your last 6 months of part time work resulted in numerous absences. Similarly, what happens if you stopped working because your company went out of business and your medical issues did not become a problem until 4 months after you stopped working?
In this video I talk about the idea of amending your onset date. Social Security allows you to change the date when you claim that your disability began. Sometimes this change will reflect the reality of your situation and other times it will reflect the medical record and what your lawyer believes he can argue successfully on your behalf.
Thinking about your onset date and considering possible changes ahead of time should be the main takeaway from this video. Given that Social Security judges are under tremendous pressure to approve only deserving claims, you are more likely to face pressure from the judge to change your onset to reduce your past due benefit award. Sometimes it will make sense to compromise and sometimes it is better to stand firm.
Social Security disability hearings follow a fairly consistent pattern. Although every judge has his or her own practices, by in large, the information required will be roughly the same, regardless of the judge.
Since your hearing is your only opportunity to interact face to face with a judge, it just makes sense to prepare for those questions that always come up at hearings. You will hurt your chances at an approval if you do not prepare – the last thing you want to do is hem and haw trying to come up with an answers. You are going to be nervous anyway so always prepare ahead of time with your lawyer.
In this video I talk about those questions that always seem to come up. Though this video should not be used as a substitute for a pre-hearing conference with your lawyer, it should help you start with your preparation.
You may feel scared or intimidated as the date of your Social Security disability hearing approaches. Would it be ok if you brought a friend or relative into the hearing room to give you moral support. In this video I explain hearing office policy regarding witnesses and observers.