What a Social Security Disability Lawyer Does at Your Hearing

Your hearing will be over in about an hour, maybe less. Hearings seldom take longer than an hour and one-half.

If you're well prepared because of this website and your meeting with your lawyer before your hearing, your lawyer may not have to ask many questions at the hearing. In hearings with judges who like to ask most of the questions, the only time your lawyer needs to ask you anything is if your lawyer thinks that your testimony wasn't clear enough or there are issues that were not developed. In fact, it's better that way. The more information you give in answer to the judge's questions, the better it is for your case. Your case will be presented naturally and your testimony will flow freely. The judge will get to know you and your situation as you and the judge talk; and the judge won't think that it's your lawyer testifying rather than you.

Your lawyer will, however, ask questions of any witnesses you bring along to the hearing; and it is the lawyer’s job to question any expert witnesses called by the judge.

The most important part of what your lawyer does usually takes place outside the hearing. That is, your lawyer gathers medical evidence, gets reports from doctors, does legal and medical research, and prepares witnesses to testify.

Your lawyer may make a closing argument either in writing or at the hearing. However, the best-developed cases don’t need a closing argument. If a case is well developed with medical evidence and with the claimant's testimony, a closing argument is often not necessary.

There is one thing that lawyers cannot do: they are powerless to speed up the system. There may be a delay in getting the written decision. The written decision will be mailed to you with a copy to your lawyer. If you’re lucky enough to have the judge issue a bench decision at the hearing, the short written bench decision summary usually comes within a week. Otherwise, don’t expect a decision from the judge for at least a month — two months is more common. Sometimes it takes even longer for a hearing decision to be mailed to you. Some judges are very slow.

There is seldom any way to speed up getting a decision out. So, as hard as it is, you must grit your teeth and wait. If more than three months pass, it's a good idea to make sure that your file hasn't been lost; and your lawyer can do that. But your lawyer can't do much more to speed things up..