Are you applying for a disability allowance and waiting for a disability hearing? If so, prepare ahead of time for any trick questions the judge may ask about disability. If you work with a good disability attorney, they can adequately prepare you for your hearing. However, unrepresented applicants must prepare on their own and may not know where to start.
Disability Judge Trick Questions
The good news? The disability lawyers at Collins Price, PLLC have put their decades of experience to work for you in this blog post. Below are top tips for handling difficult questions from disability judges during your hearing.
What can you expect from a handicap judge?
Disability Court Judges are professionally known as Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). Applicants will be assigned an ALJ when they receive their hearing date. You will meet with the ALJ on the day of the hearing and have the option of an in-person hearing or a telephone or video hearing.
ALJs review all of a claimant’s electronic records before the SSDI hearing. This file contains medical evidence relevant to the claim, any related instructions or arguments from the claimant’s disability attorney (if he or she has one), the claimant’s employment history and wage reports, and more.
During the hearing, you can expect the disability judge to ask (interview) you about your employment history, your current medical limitations, and the effects of those limitations on your daily life. You can also hire a professional to review your claim.
The vocational expert will not interview applicants directly. Instead, the ALJ will interview the vocational expert, who will provide hypothetical context and guidance on how your limitations may prevent you from working.
Trick questions for handicap judges
Disability adjudicators act as a safeguard to ensure that Social Security disability funds are reserved for those who need them most. When interviewing applicants, they are not trying to “mislead” the applicant, they are simply trying to find out what medical limitations you have.
Often, plaintiffs make statements at a hearing that contradict the medical evidence in the file or their history of disability. In these cases, an ALJ may try to resolve conflicting information or fill evidentiary gaps in your benefit claim. Disability Judge Trick Questions
Three common trick questions for judges with disabilities
We have represented plaintiffs in thousands of hearings for more than a decade. Below we have listed the three most common trick questions we hear at hearings:
Question #1: It seems you live alone – how do you get food and supplies?
Why this is difficult: The judge knows that everyone should have access to food and basic amenities. If you’ve previously said you can’t drive, stand, leave your home, or perform other basic tasks, the ALJ wants to know how you can access essentials.
How to answer: Don’t be sloppy in your answer. Instead, be as detailed as possible. For example, if you have a friend or neighbor who takes you to the grocery store every week, talk about it. If you order your groceries online and transport them in a shopping cart, make sure ALJ is aware of this. If you can get to the grocery store in an emergency but it takes all day, let the ALJ know how difficult the trip is.
Question no. 2: Do you live with an elderly relative/do you have children? How do you take care of them?
Why this is difficult: ALJs typically ask such questions when there is a clear conflict between a plaintiff’s actual life situation, his or her medical evidence, and his or her testimony. For example, if a claimant is the sole caregiver of an immobile elderly parent but states that they cannot lift more than three pounds, an ALJ will ask the claimant to clarify how they will assist their loved one with bathing or moving around the home can.
How to answer: Be honest and clear. But be sure to itemize any help you get, no matter how small. Also, point out what adjustments you make based on your limitations. For example: “I often take breaks when I help my mother sit up in bed and move her with a sheet.”
Question No. 3: Your previous work was physically demanding. Of course, you can’t do that anymore, but if someone paid you as much for a sedentary job, you could do it, right?
Why it’s hard: When an ALJ asks you this, it’s usually because they don’t think your limitations are severe enough to meet Social Security’s definition of disability. You may assume that your limitations may allow you to work in some capacity and earn wages above SSDI’s allowable monthly limit, even if you are unable to perform your current job. In such situations, it is common for ALJs to ask the career expert for additional context.
Answer: If you are not represented by a disability attorney at your hearing, you may not have a clear understanding of Social Security’s definition of disability. The standard for disability is not that you are unable to perform your existing job, but rather that you are unable to perform work of any kind that results
If the ALJ asks you this question and you think you can do less physically demanding work, answer honestly.
if you feel that the ALJ and career expert are missing important information about your limitations, or if you have had unsuccessful attempts to get less demanding jobs in the past, now is the time to speak up.
Also, please note that the ALJ and Career Examiner do not evaluate whether services are immediately available to you when reviewing your application. For example, they may find that you can do light sedentary work, such as working as a customer service specialist in a call center. That may be true, but unfortunately, it’s not relevant to your point.
This is because Social Security benefits are reserved for people with severe medical disabilities who have been or are expected to be unemployed for 12 months or longer. If an ALJ determines that you can perform less demanding work, he or she will likely deny your claim. However, the program offers more relaxed qualifications for older applicants who may find it difficult to adapt to other careers.
Signs of good SSDI hearing
Applicants who work with disability attorneys are, on average, more successful than those who do not. For this reason, we encourage applicants seeking a disability attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina to contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation.
If you decide to go through the process alone, we recommend doing as much research as possible beforehand and keeping a cool head during the negotiation. The most important thing to remember is to be honest and clear with the ALJ. But don’t neglect your limitations or minimize your difficulties. Your testimony is critical to the ALJ’s decision on your claim.