In Addition to a Social Security Attorney and Judge, Who Will Attend a Hearing?

Q: What should a claimant expect during a disability hearing?

A: The thought of appearing in court for a disability hearing can make a claimant very nervous. But knowing what to expect can help reduce the anxiety level. The court appearance will not be like the scenes in movies. An administrative judge will preside over the hearing. In addition to the judge, a hearing reporter and the social security attorney or representative (if the claimant has hired one) will attend the hearing. Sometimes a vocational expert, medical expert and any witnesses the claimant has will also attend. The claimant will be asked questions about the injury or condition, treatment and how that affects the daily routines and ability to work. No one is there to prove innocence or guilt; one social security attorney is not pitted against another. The judge is simply trying to determine if the claimant should be awarded disability benefits based on all the evidence presented. The claimant should answer all questions honestly and represent his or her injury or condition honestly. A claimant who has concerns about an upcoming hearing should talk about them with his or her social security attorney to help reduce any worry or fear about what to expect. There is no requirement to have a social security attorney. But a claimant who does not have a social security attorney could benefit greatly from speaking with one at this time.

Q: What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

A: SSI is supplement security income. It is a need based program. To qualify, a claimant must earn below a certain amount per year. The purpose of SSI is to help provide basic needs to those who do not have the financial means to do so themselves. SSDI is social security disability insurance. It is not based on financial need. To qualify, a claimant must have earned enough credits through Social Security contributions made during previous years of employment. If you have questions about qualifying for either SSI or SSDI, visit or contact a social security attorney for assistance.

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