Social Security News.

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Very important point. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles is the basis used to deny many people Social Security Disability.
It should reflect the current work environment.

The Central Illinois Hearing Office in Peoria, Illinois has been moving Social Security Disability cases much faster this year. The Peoria office covers Bloomington, Pontiac, Springfield, Decatur and Champaign.

Before this year it would take anywhere from 2 to 3 years from the date you requested your hearing to actually have your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge.

The Hearing Office is now scheduling hearings for cases from the summer and fall of 2007. It looks the wait time has been reduced to 18 months from the date you request a hearing.

The question is whether this will last? Staffing has to continue to keep pace, and the number of new cases filed will have an effect on whether the backlog will be reduced.

I have seen some people report that in the 1970’s it would only take 4 to 8 months to have a hearing. I do not think we will return to that level any time soon.

Questions about how soon you can expect a hearing? Call Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

What happens behind closed doors during a Social Security Disability Hearing?

First of all, there is not a lawyer working for Social Security who is trying to stop you from getting Social Security Disability. This does not mean it will be easy to be approved for Social Security Disability.

Second, the Administrative Law Judge who works for Social Security will be asking you a lot of questions. She will be the one making the decision in your case, and she wants to know how your condition limits your activities.

Third, the Vocational Expert will provide examples of jobs he thinks you can do based on your limitations. You will need to know how to ask questions of the vocational expert that will show you cannot work those jobs.

Fourth, the Judge will most likely not make a decision the day of your hearing. She will write up a decision and send it to you in about 60 days.

More questions about what will happen at your Social Security Disability hearing? Call me, Attorney Dirk May, at 309-827-4371.

You are the main witness, and usually the only witness, at your Social Security Disability Hearing. So what you have to say to the Judge is very important.Your testimony before the Administrative Law Judge:

  •  should be believable; not every day is a bad day and you are able to perform some daily activities. You should not exaggerate your pain, but you also should not down play your problems either. Tell the Judge what happens to you on a typical day. It helps to reflect on what you have experienced over the past several years. It may also help to keep a journal of your limitations.
  • should be descriptive; it is not helpful to use terms such as “it varies” or “it depends”. You need to be able to tell the Judge types of items you have problem lifting, or how far you can walk, and how long you can sit. You should be able to give examples of problems you have around the house, and describe your pain.
  • should be clear; you are at the hearing because you absolutely cannot work a full time job. If you tell the judge you may be able to work full time or you will try to work full time then you will lose your case and not be found disabled.

If you have any questions about Social Security Disability or what happens at hearings please call Illinois Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

A trial for your Social Security Disability case is nothing like what you see on Television. 

In Central Illinois- Peoria, Bloomington, Pontiac, Champaign and Springfield- the hearing is either held in the Hearing Office hearing room, a video conference room, or a Federal Court Conference room depending on where you live. The room itself is not that large. It does not look like a TV courtroom. There is no jury. So there is not a jury box.

The only people present are the Social Security Judge, known as an Administrative Law Judge, a monitor who runs the recording equipment, the vocational expert, yourself and your lawyer.

The monitor makes an audio recording of the hearing. Later a transcript may be necessary.

The vocational expert answers questions from the judge regarding jobs that you may be able to perform based on your limitations.

The Administrative Law Judge usually will ask you many questions about your educational and work background, your medical condition, and your limitations. Social Security does not have a lawyer so the judge will ask many more questions than other types of cases.

You will then have the chance to explain to the judge how your problems keep you from working and to question the vocational expert.

If you have any questions regarding your upcoming Social Security Disability hearing please call Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

The delays from filing for Social Security Disability to hearing are discouraging, disappointing and the prospects for improvement are dismal.

In Central Illinois, which covers Peoria, Bloomington, Pontiac, Springfield and Champaign, Illinois it takes 2.5 years to 3 years to get to hearing. That is devastating when you cannot work due to your disability.

There is no easy answer.

The Social Security Commissioner recently said that the problem is partially due to Administrative Law Judges who do not do their job and decide enough cases, and partially due to not having enough judges and support staff.

First of all, in my experience the judges in the Peoria region all work hard and hear many cases. The reality is that there are many more people applying for Social Security than there is staff that can keep up with the cases.   

The upcoming election is not going to change funding or staffing to the extent it will make any difference in the delays. Sorry, to be negative.

But that does not mean we should not be contacting federal officials- Congress persons and United States Senators, and reminding them of the about the terrible delays and encouraging them to do all that is possible to bring down the case backlogs.