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St. Louis Social Security Disability Lawyer Discusses Tips On Preparing For Your Hearing

Jan. 4, 2009

Our office has been working with “Social Security Claimants” for over two decades. Most Social Security applicants don’t understand what is involved in successfully presenting their case in front of an administrative law judge. First, it is important to understand that it is normally not enough to prove that you can’t work at your last job. Instead you must prove that you have a “medically determinable disability” which prevents you from engaging in any “substantial gainful employment”. The word “substantial” is important because you can earn a small amount of wages and still be eligible for disability benifits. The amount is set by the Social Security Administration and can change from time to time. If you are already engaging in substantial employment, then you are not eligible to obtain disability benifits.Secondly, there are regulations which Social security attorneys refer to as “the Grid”. The Social Security Administration recognizes different standards for claimant’s of different ages, levels of education and work backgrounds. Once the appropriate standards are determined, an attorney can determine whether the medical recods are adaquate to support the claim for disability. If not, an attorney may pose specific questions to a claimant’s treating doctor[s]. Thirdly, it is important for an attorney to help his client quantify his complaints in a specific manner. A claimant may be asked, “How much can you lift”. A bad answer would be “not very much”. An answer like this doesn’t help to describe the claimant’s limitations. It should be noted that Social Security judges refer to something called “The Dictionary of Occupational Titles” for job information. This source describes the exertional requirements of all classified jobs which exist in the national economy. It is up to the claimant’s attorney to prove that his client can’t perform any substantial work for which he is qualified. In addition, “Social Security Judges” will often bring “vocational rehabilitation counselors” into a hearing in order to get clarifications as to the claimant’s “work background”, “work restrictions” and the requirements of various jobs. An attorney must be prepared to effectively challenge the vocational counselor’s testimony through effective cross-examination.Finally, Social Security Hearings are informal and usually take about an hour, although they can vary in length , depending on the judges fomat and the complexity of the case. Your attoney will know the various judges at the “Downtown SSA Office” and the “Creve Couer SSA Office”. Be sure to dress appropriatly, as it is important to create a favorable impression. In short, preparation is the key to winning your case, so talk to your attorney ask him what you can do to help your cause. Submitted by Jeff Swaney FREE CONSULTATION (314) 310-8373