Five Strategies Lawyers Use at Disability Hearings
When a client has been denied disability, there is a lengthy appeals process before the matter is firmly settled. If the matter is not resolved earlier, at some point the case will go before a disability hearing. At this point, the medical documentation is necessary, but it’s not the only thing that’s going to decide the case. This is where experienced, professional legal counsel comes in. An experienced lawyer knows how to argue more than just what’s on the paper in a case. With that in mind, here are some strategies that disability lawyers use at hearings to help win a case.
1) Arguing that you can’t do your previous work
For most disability cases, the first order of business is proving that you are unable to hold down a previous job that you have held. This is important because one of the first things the disability judge will look at is your work history. If there is any indication in your medical history and documentation that there is a job you have had in the past that you can still do, the judge will be much less inclined to grant you your disability benefits. And this is important — the judge will look at all of your previous jobs, not just your most recent ones.
2) Arguing that you can’t do another job — even a sedentary one
If your lawyer does the job of showing why you are unable to return to a previous job, only half of the job has been done at this point. Even if you aren’t able to return to a job, this doesn’t mean that you can’t work somewhere else. At this point, the judge will start to look at your documentation to determine if you can work somewhere else. This can be a trickier point to argue, because even sedentary jobs can be available. The lawyer will make the point that, due to your disability, any job, even one that requires nothing more than sitting at a desk or answering phones, is outside your capabilities.
3) Arguing against the word of a VE
It’s likely that a VE (Vocational Expert) will be called to testify. A VE is an expert witness who will examine your records and give their expert opinion and advice on your ability to work. This can be a difficult point in your case, because the VE’s testimony can carry a lot of weight. Fortunately, your lawyer will be given the opportunity to question and cross-examine the VE.
4) Arguing that you meet a listing
Or course, none of this is necessary if the SSA recognizes that you meet one of its Blue Book listings. Going to a hearing means that, so far at least, the SSA does not believe that is the case. If your lawyer can make this argument and convince the judge that you do meet a listing, then you will be approved for benefits based on that listing alone.