At most Social Security Disability hearings, there is a claimant, his or her lawyer, the judge, a hearing reporter, and a vocational expert. In recent years, medical experts at disability hearings have become more common. Medical experts are psychologists, psychiatrists, or physicians who provide expert opinions about whether the claimant’s disability meets or equals one of the listings that qualify him or her for disability benefits.
At Disability Advocates Group, we understand how important it is to present medical experts at disability hearings. If you would like to apply for Social Security benefits in the greater Los Angeles area, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.
The Social Security Benefits Appeals Process
The Social Security Administration denies most first-time applications for Social Security benefits. Claimants have a right to file a request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the denial letter. When the Social Security Administration denies a request for reconsideration, the claimant has a right to request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The administrative law judge will evaluate the claim, question the vocational expert and medical experts, and decide whether the applicant is eligible to receive Social Security benefits. During the hearing, the claimant’s lawyer will ask all of the witnesses questions, including the medical expert. During their testimony, medical experts can provide their expert opinion on how the claimant’s medical condition affects their day-to-day life.
What Does a Medical Expert Do?
When the administrative law judge calls a medical expert, the expert will testify about the severity of the applicant’s medical condition.
Most medical experts are familiar with the Social Security administration’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is a manual that lists all of the types of medical conditions and specific diagnoses that are eligible for Social Security benefits. The administrative law judge will typically ask them to point out limitations that make it difficult or impossible for the claimant to do certain work activities.
Your lawyer will also be able to question the medical expert during the hearing. If you have filed a request for a disability hearing and received a notice that a medical expert will testify at your hearing, you should consider hiring a lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to ask them medical questions to elicit answers that will help your case and prove that you are entitled to disability benefits.
The Benefit of Hiring a Medical Expert
The administrative law judge has the authority to request a medical expert during the disability hearing. After reviewing your records, the expert will provide his or her medical opinion. In many cases, administrative law judges do not ask many questions of medical experts. Your lawyer can ask more in-depth questions of the medical expert to help fill in the gaps within your medical record. For example, the medical expert can ask questions about how your medical condition affected you when you were not in treatment.
Medical Experts Are Important in Mental Illness Claims
Medical experts can be beneficial in claims involving mental health or other medical illnesses that are more subjective. Suppose a claimant suffered from chronic migraines that lasted two to three days at least twice a month. Doctors have conducted multiple tasks, including MRIs and CAT scans, but are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the migraines. Medications began to make the migraines worse, and the patient stopped seeking further medical treatment.
The patient’s record may have a note from a neurologist that says the patient’s symptoms improved after discontinuing his or her medication.
Medical Experts Can Establish the Date of Onset
The date of onset of the claimant’s medical condition is important because it helps determine when benefits should have started. The date the disability began will determine if the client will receive retroactive Social Security benefits. The claimant will only receive retroactive benefits if the administrative law judge determines that he or she is eligible following the hearing.
Determining the date that a medical condition started isn’t always easy. The claimant may not have received medical treatment right away after his or her symptoms began. The medical expert will review the claimant’s medical records and provide an expert opinion on the date of onset.
Contact Disability Advocates Group For a Free Consultation
Do you or your loved one have a medical condition or disability that prevents you from working? You may be entitled to disability benefits. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to learn more about how we can help you obtain the benefits you deserve.