It is best to be represented by an experienced Fresno disability lawyer at the hearing, as the Administrative Law Judge may change his approach if you are unrepresented.
Social Security Hearing Procedure
The Social Security regulations are not very specific in their description of hearing procedure. They do state that the administrative law judge at the hearing will fully consider the issues, question the claimant and the other witnesses, and take into account as evidence any documents relevant to the case.
The ALJ may also accept evidence at the hearing even though by rules of evidence employed by the court, such evidence would not be admissible in a court.
Witnesses will give testimony under oath and the ALJ will allow both parties to question witnesses. The ALJ have the authority to decide when the evidence will be presented and when the issues will be discussed.
No ALJ conducts a hearing exactly the same as other ALJs. An ALJ may opt for different procedures for an unrepresented claimant than those used in a hearing when an experienced Fresno disability lawyer is representing the claimant. Other related variations include:
- The length and substance of opening statements by ALJs
- How much an ALJ will question the claimant
- Whether the ALJ questions the claimant prior to or following the claimant’s attorney asking questions.
- Instructing witnesses to stay in the waiting room during the claimant testimony; some ALJs do, others do not.
But these variations are subtle, because most disability hearings are conducted in uniform fashion as individual ALJs will abide by procedures established in the Social Security Administration manual.