October 2007

The time you have before the administrative law judge in your social securtity hearing is limited. Most hearings are 45 to 50 minutes long. The judge mainly wants to hear from you since you are the person who can describe your daily activities and limitations. For this reason I will not usually call other witnesses to testify.

The exceptions are children’s cases and mental health problems. In these type of cases, witnesses are helpful.

Instead of witnesses in Social Security disability cases I will advise people to have family members or friends write letters describing the claimant’s limitations and condition.
The judge will read the letters and make them part of the file.

If you live in Peoria, Bloomington, Springfield or Champaign, Illinois and need a Social Security lawyer give me a call.


The Social Security Administration is gearing up to hire more Administrative Law Judges. That is the good news. This is an attempt to help bring the case back log down. The problem is that through retirement and attrition the net effect will still be the loss of more judges.

The short run outlook is still long waits for hearings for those seeking Social Security Disability. The long term plan will probably include hiring more judges and having them operate from regional hearing sites. That will certainly effect downstate Illinois claimants seeking Social Security disability in several ways. More on that in future posts.

Clients will often tell me they are nervous about testifying at their Social Security disability hearing.

While it is normal to be nervous, you should remember that it is not anything like television. There is not a jury. There is not another attorney who will cross examine you.
The only people in the hearing room are the Judge, your attorney, the vocational expert, and a person recording the proceedings.

The Judge asks questions about your medical condition, your limitations, your medical treatment, your daily activities, and work history.

I always go through the major subject areas with my clients before the hearing so that you will feel comfortable and prepared.

If you live in Peoria, Bloomington, Springfield, or Champaign, Illinois please feel free to contact me to discuss what will happen at your Social Security hearing.

Some people have asked if the child must testify in court on her own behalf in a SSI case.

The answer is yes. The Administrative Law Judge wants to hear from the child. The testimony may turn out to be limited or very basic, but in any event the child is required to testify.

Most Administrative Law Judge’s are sensitive to the child’s position and will take measures to protect them from certain information. For instance, they may ask the child to leave the room if there will be testimony that is graphic or disturbing to them.

If you have any specific questions regarding a child’s testimony, please feel free to call me.

You can work part-time and still be eligible for Social Security Disability.

If your condition limits the amount you can work, Social Security takes this into account.

The limit you can earn per month is $900 for 2007. The amount allowed changes every year.

If you earn more than $900 per month, then Social Security treats this as substantial gainful activity and you will be found not disabled.

There are certain exceptions to this rule but they are limited. If you have any questions please feel free to call me.