Welcome! This site is written for Social Security disability claimants, for their legal representatives, and for the network of people involved in the Social Security disability claim process. I hope you find it helpful.
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A hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) to determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability benefits usually follows a pattern: opening remarks by the judge and then the claimant’s lawyer, the claimant’s testimony, and then testimony of a vocational witness regarding the claimant’s past relevant work, and whether or not various functional limitations would preclude that past relevant work and/or other work. Broadly speaking, this is pretty much the course of most hearings. At the close of the hearing, the judge often will say something like “Thank you for coming today. I will review the record and issue a written decision soon.”

Occasionally, at the end of the hearing the judge will announce that the claim will be granted, and that a written decision will be forthcoming. But usually applicants leave the hearing without knowing the outcome of their claim.

These hearings are completely unfamiliar to most people, and there is a great deal at stake. I want the client to return home with a fair idea of the probable result, so I always spend time after the hearing to discuss with the client how the hearing went.

There are usually clues from the hearing about the probable result. Strong clues are the vocational testimony, and the judge’s choice of hypothetical questions for the VE. The caliber of the testimony of the claimant during the hearing is also a strong clue, along with the tenor of the questioning of the claimant from the judge. My past experience in other cases with the particular judge at the hearing also informs my opinion.

As a result, I usually have a pretty good idea at the end of the hearing what the decision is going to be. And I always share that with my client.