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Old 08-12-2011, 07:35 AM   #1
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Question Preparing for the ALJ?

For those who have been thru their hearing, would you provide some insight/feel for the environment -- as to what this is like?

How it was done in your case (not your private case details) but the (theatrics) itself.

Was it via the internet or in person;

Who Q's (judge or his advocate) and what sort of Q's are you asked and what is your atty asked if anything?

Does your atty prep you? In what way? Is it nerve racking? Lots of drama?

Is going before the ALJ like normal court cases whereas the (judge, or his advocate) gets to 'cross exam'? Do they act like attack dogs?

How long does the hearing take?

Thanks you to everyone who answers. For those of us who've never been before the ALJ this could be very helpful and/or stress relieving.

(In my particular situation, I've been 'on the stand' before as a character witness, in a jury trial for a friend who was raped and beaten. If this is anything like that I want to get mentally prepared. It was awful when the defense atty (for the guy who raped her) attempted to tear me apart to make this jerk look like wonder boy and her like a tramp. ---BTW, its been over 35 yrs and he's still in jail!!!!!)

 
Old 08-12-2011, 10:25 AM   #2
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Here is my experience from my hearing back in February:

I met briefly with my attorney a couple of weeks prior to the hearing date. She went over how the hearing would proceed and what types of questions she would ask me. She didn't try to help me with my answers or give me suggestions on how to answer though. The day of the hearing, I met with my attorney about a half hour before the hearing. We went into a small room where she put my medical records cd into the computer to look over some things. When the judge was ready for my case, we went into the hearing room, which was the size of a conference room. The judge was seated at the back of the room as I entered. There was just the judge, me, my attorney, the court reporter and the vocational expert. The judge swore me in and asked some basic questions regarding my education, then asked about each of my jobs (where worked, what duties performed and how long I was employed there) for the last 10 years. Then my attorney started questioning me about my health issues and asked me to go into detail about why I feel I am disabled. After the attorney was finished, the judge asked the vocational expert a couple of hypothetical questions and asked for her opinion if there were jobs I could perform. In my case, she listed a few such as data entry and I can't remember what else. My attorney was able to cross examine her afterwards, asking her to consider specific problems I have. Because of this additional questioning, the attorney got her to say that she felt I was unemployable. Then it was over. It took about 30 minutes in all and really wasn't that bad. Of course I was nervous, but it isn't like other types of court cases where someone cross examines you, trying to hurt your credibility. It really was pretty mellow. In fact, my judge yawned his way through the entire hearing.

I have yet to receive a decision even though it's been 6 months. I hope this information helps you a little, and good luck with your upcoming hearing

Last edited by pme; 08-12-2011 at 10:27 AM. Reason: typo

 
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:02 AM   #3
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Jacki, I have been debating myself all morning, if I should answer your post, or not. I don't want to scare anyone, but I figure it is always better to know the truth: My hearing was an absolute nightmare.

My attorney met me there about an hour before the hearing, to go over questions.

It lasted 35 minutes, and the judge was on a large screen tv. After everyone introduced themselves, (me, my representative, the vocational expert, and the lady recording the hearing), the judge began by asking me questions about my education, previous jobs, and my health problems. I was warned that he was not nice, but I was not prepared for such an bitter, angry man to be speaking to me in such a tone. Every question was asked with a hateful sneer and an angry tone. Between each question, he stared me down with an indescribable, intense hatred.

My attorney told me he would probably focus on why I had not had surgery to fix my back problems, and sure enough, he did. When I told him that two surgeons had said the surgery would be too difficult (and I have the paperwork to back it up), he shouted at me "Well, why didn't you get third and fourth opinions!" Then my rep. asked me questions about my home life and functional capacity.

When it came time for the vocational expert, the judge described a hypothetical person who could climb stairs, do light lifting, stand for 8 hours, etc. My attorney and I looked at each other in disbelief - I am not able to do any of the things he described. My attorney was sitting next to the vocational expert, and said later, that she saw him write down 'no transferable skills'.

At my hearing, the ALJ did act like an attack dog. In the end, the judge denied me (big surprise, huh?). He had obviously made up his mind before the hearing that I was a fake - and did say in the denial letter that I was a fake.

Jacki, I really, really hope you get a very nice, and very fair judge!

 
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:13 PM   #4
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Wow, that is awful Gayle. Ty for sharing. Even if you get denied @ the ALJ level, there is absolutely no reason for any Judge to act like Judge Judy that you see on TV. The judges like Judy that you see on TV are doing this in part to jack the ratings up. I think most of the judges are probably fair but there will always be those who will abuse this power.

 
Old 08-13-2011, 07:20 AM   #5
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Smile Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gayle4102 View Post
Jacki, I have been debating myself all morning, if I should answer your post, or not. I don't want to scare anyone, but I figure it is always better to know the truth: My hearing was an absolute nightmare.

My attorney met me there about an hour before the hearing, to go over questions.

It lasted 35 minutes, and the judge was on a large screen tv. After everyone introduced themselves, (me, my representative, the vocational expert, and the lady recording the hearing), the judge began by asking me questions about my education, previous jobs, and my health problems. I was warned that he was not nice, but I was not prepared for such an bitter, angry man to be speaking to me in such a tone. Every question was asked with a hateful sneer and an angry tone. Between each question, he stared me down with an indescribable, intense hatred.

My attorney told me he would probably focus on why I had not had surgery to fix my back problems, and sure enough, he did. When I told him that two surgeons had said the surgery would be too difficult (and I have the paperwork to back it up), he shouted at me "Well, why didn't you get third and fourth opinions!" Then my rep. asked me questions about my home life and functional capacity.

When it came time for the vocational expert, the judge described a hypothetical person who could climb stairs, do light lifting, stand for 8 hours, etc. My attorney and I looked at each other in disbelief - I am not able to do any of the things he described. My attorney was sitting next to the vocational expert, and said later, that she saw him write down 'no transferable skills'.

At my hearing, the ALJ did act like an attack dog. In the end, the judge denied me (big surprise, huh?). He had obviously made up his mind before the hearing that I was a fake - and did say in the denial letter that I was a fake.

Jacki, I really, really hope you get a very nice, and very fair judge!
TY Gayle, not to worry. From your previous posts, I was not surprised by your experience. I don't scare that easily, but I don't like to be blind sided either. Everyone's experience if they reply is sorta my own home work. As I mentioned in my orig post, I WAS blind sided when I was cross examined in my friends trial (they even removed the jury when the defense atty got so belligerent with me.) To add to that, I was in my early 20's; but my friend had a great atty who prepped me so well. Not giving me answers per se, but, well, I don't know how she did it, -but it was like written script and we were on stage - which is why I called it theatrics. Years later I came to discover, court cases are exactly that - theatrics - especially when a jury is involved.

See, I don't know if my atty will be that thorough. I was devastated to learned he recently he has taken on other facets in his practice (foreclosures, wills, etc) So, I kinda think I had better do as much as I can on my end to prepare myself.

I hope I get a nice judge too.. one like PME's would be fine. Maybe they will give me a choice (LOL) Altho, I don't want a 6 month wait after the hearing to get a ruling, nor do I want to wait after a positive ruling for it to be in writing. I am waiting for someone to snap their fingers and get everyone's case heard, each come out to the positive IN WRITING and the checks to start. Thats not asking too much.. *snicker*

Thank you PME & Gayle for taking the time to share your experience. Hugs

Is there anyone else who wouldn't mind sharing? I sure would appreciate it. Likely others would too if they are waiting their hearing.

Oh, Gayle, was the VE & court reporter in your conference room or on screen with the judge?

 
Old 08-13-2011, 11:00 AM   #6
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacki345 View Post

Oh, Gayle, was the VE & court reporter in your conference room or on screen with the judge?

The VE and the court reporter were in the conference room with me - only the judge was on the screen.

Jacki, I am glad you don't scare easily!! Even with a nice judge, the whole ordeal can rough.

 
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Old 08-13-2011, 11:30 AM   #7
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gayle4102 View Post
The VE and the court reporter were in the conference room with me - only the judge was on the screen.

Jacki, I am glad you don't scare easily!! Even with a nice judge, the whole ordeal can rough.
No doubt!
Thats not to say I won't be intimidated *grin*. If what SSA told me is correct and cases here are running about a 12 month cycle, he said I am about 4-5 months away from a hearing and will get my hearing notice accordingly. Hence all my ALJ hearing inquiries. Which I will have to put myself in the right mind set not to look like the sheepish girl (Dorothy), in front of the big bad man (The Great and Powerful OZ), who sits behind the curtain/monitor, in the big bad room.

See, at this point, I have lost (more than) a little faith in my atty, since he seems to be otherwise occupied with all the new work he has taken on (foreclosures) and trying to get a handle on (= $$$$$) or says the para legal.

Sucks to be in my head right now. One day I'm told one thing, the next time, its all together something else. Point being, the more I can get educated on now, the less I will have to prep for later. So the more input I can get from those who've been there and done that, the better off I will be. Or perhaps I am over thinking this entire process.

 
Old 08-13-2011, 03:25 PM   #8
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

I just wanted to say that thank god I did not have to go through all that I seriously do not think I would be able to handle going before a judge . Even though i had prepared, something like that would of pushed me over the edge.
My sister in law had to do this a couple of times,and the judge asked her about her marraige. Nothing to do with her claim of disability at all. She tried to get approved a few times and was denied. She finally gave up.

 
Old 08-13-2011, 09:49 PM   #9
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

wow ! gayle, i hate you went thru that !! that is horrible !!
i have filed 2 claims and went thru 2 alj hearings (most recent one on aug 9, 2011)...
jacki345- to answer your questions as to what i experienced both times i will number them #1 & #2 as to alj hearings..

How it was done in your case (not your private case details) but the (theatrics) itself. 1 & 2 introductions, sworn in, my atty made opening statement. #1 ve was extremely late, came in with about 15 minutes left of hearing, not introd or sworn in (in front of us), heard only 2 questions answered by me

Was it via the internet or in person; both in person

Who Q's (judge or his advocate) and what sort of Q's are you asked and what is your atty asked if anything? 1 & 2, my attorney questioned me. questions pertained to diagnoses, limitations, med side effects, etc

Does your atty prep you? In what way? Is it nerve racking? Lots of drama?
#1 meeting with atty 2 weeks before hearing, he asked me questions that he would ask at hearing and if i did not answer the way he wanted, he coached me on how to answer.. #2 meeting with atty 2 weeks before hearing, he knew i had been thru it before, and did not "coach" me. we did meet up briefly before hearing to go over a few things .. #1 i was very nervous at hearing but no drama.. #2 i was calm and collected due to my meds, totally different from first claim hearing

Is going before the ALJ like normal court cases whereas the (judge, or his advocate) gets to 'cross exam'? Do they act like attack dogs? #1 judge just observed and listened to my atty and myself, he did not ask me anything at all. #2 judge was very nice, very smooth, much more outgoing than first judge.. neither acted like attack dogs.. #1 judge asked ve hypothetical questions, my attorney cross examined him,i was denied... #2, judge did not ask ve anything at all,therefore my atty did not have to cross examine- i was verbally approved-fully favorable (bench decision)

How long does the hearing take? #1 one hour, #2 about 35 minutes

this is nothing like your normal "court" hearing... the only ones there are you, your attorney, a ve or me, court reporter and the judge in a small hearing room...i have never heard of a VE or ME asking the ssdi claimant any questions at all.. either the judge will ask you questions or your atty.. usually they let the atty ask you the questions, and if the judge needs more info, he will ask.. your atty has the right to cross examine any witness that the judge has brought it, be it a ve or me or other.. and if you have witnesses there to testify for you, the judge can ask them questions, and your if your atty feels the judge has gotten an answer that is not favorable, he will ask your witness questions to attempt to correct what was said to your favor... hope this helps you feel a little more at ease.... to be in front of any judge sometimes can feel a little intimidating, but for example my recent judge, he made me feel comfortable right off with his cheerful intro, and attitude....

 
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:30 AM   #10
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

G'Mornin' MsGenerallee

Thanks for your reply. Everyone's experience is going to be very helpful for me, I am certain. I am trying to put my head in the right place before I get the notice of court date etc. Otherwise, I'm afraid there won't be a medication made (yet) that could calm me down. LOL

 
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:54 AM   #11
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacki345 View Post
No doubt!
Thats not to say I won't be intimidated *grin*. If what SSA told me is correct and cases here are running about a 12 month cycle, he said I am about 4-5 months away from a hearing and will get my hearing notice accordingly. Hence all my ALJ hearing inquiries. Which I will have to put myself in the right mind set not to look like the sheepish girl (Dorothy), in front of the big bad man (The Great and Powerful OZ), who sits behind the curtain/monitor, in the big bad room.
You could get a big bad woman Jacki. LOL!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacki345 View Post
See, at this point, I have lost (more than) a little faith in my atty, since he seems to be otherwise occupied with all the new work he has taken on (foreclosures) and trying to get a handle on (= $$$$$) or says the para legal.
This is why I chose Allsup to represent me. SSDI is all they do. My LTD carier is going to credit me the representation fee. They use Allsup to help claimants on LTD to get SSDI all the time. They do have an ulterior motive in getting you approved, however since SSDI offsets LTD.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacki345 View Post
Sucks to be in my head right now. One day I'm told one thing, the next time, its all together something else. Point being, the more I can get educated on now, the less I will have to prep for later. So the more input I can get from those who've been there and done that, the better off I will be. Or perhaps I am over thinking this entire process.
I also tend to over-think and over analyze everything Jacki. I will often go thru every what if in my mind and then repeat ad infinitum. You can easily get stuck in this endless loop that is hard to break sometimes. I hope you get a fair Judge.

Last edited by BlueSkies14; 08-14-2011 at 10:56 AM.

 
Old 08-14-2011, 02:26 PM   #12
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Re: Preparing for the ALJ?

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Originally Posted by BlueSkies14 View Post
You could get a big bad woman Jacki. LOL!
This is why I chose Allsup to represent me. SSDI is all they do. My LTD carrier is going to credit me the representation fee. They use Allsup to help claimants on LTD to get SSDI all the time. They do have an ulterior motive in getting you approved, however since SSDI offsets LTD.
I also tend to over-think and over analyze everything Jacki. I will often go thru every what if in my mind and then repeat ad infinitum. You can easily get stuck in this endless loop that is hard to break sometimes. I hope you get a fair Judge.

Hiya Blueskies,
Yeppers, I could get a woman. I hope not! I would prefer a male tho. I think woman are harder on women. I prefer working for a man than a woman too. Women are very demanding towards woman - and I feel they treat other women differently than they do men. But thats just been from my observations and experience.


About my atty: I was originally referred by a doctor friend and a personal friend to go to Allsup. I had talked to Allsup a few times, but they were many states away and I wanted someone who had an office I could drive to if I wanted to 'see' them. Before I signed with Allsup I went looking around. Found my atty - he only handled SSDI cases. In fact, as I interviewed him, I mentioned I was considering Allsup, BUT I wanted someone local and they were in IL, he was here. He told me he used to work for Allsup, but he went on his own. His website was all about SSDI, what to expect, etc. .. So I signed with him, went home and filed away the Allsup paperwork.

That was then..

NOW, nearly 16 months later I discover his firm handles wills, foreclosures, etc. in addition to the SSDI. Now his website is all changed to reflect the changes in his practice (along with additional attys). When I spoke with him, I reminded him of our original convo, how important it was to me that he ONLY handled SSDI cases, and how very disappointed I was to discover otherwise. He didn't say anything.

Nuttin' I can do at this stage of the game except to pray and hope I don't get overlooked for $ome great foreclo$ure in the $ky.
*sigh*

 
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