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Administrative Law Judge Hearing..What to expect?

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Old 05-21-2006, 09:12 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 58
Shakespeare HB User
Question Administrative Law Judge Hearing..What to expect?

Hello everyone. This is the first time I have posted on the disabilities board. I can usually be found on the pain mamagement or back problems boards. I have applied for SSD/SSI because of a back injury I sustained at work 6yrs ago. I went through all the Workers Comp nightmare and I knew I would have a fight witgh SSD so I got an attorney from the very beginning.

I was right in thinking that this would be an ordeal. The people at SSD/SSI would not even recognize or communicate with my attorney until AFTER the second appeal.

Now we are going to have to go for an Administrative Law Judge Hearing. This is the third appeal. Can anyone give me any advice on what to expect?

My initial injury was a herniation at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1 with disc compression and a tear at two sites. WC gave me the run around for 3 years before they would approve surgery so that was an eventual failure. I now have re-herniation at all 3 sites, degenerative disc deisase, severe lower lumbar lordosis, neuropathy, chronic pain, chronic spasms, and right leg weakness. That is all related to the original injury. There are other problems like major depressive disorder joint wakness and liver function problems brought on by long term NSAID usage and neat stuff like that.

I had an attorney during my workers comp fiasco but I trusted him too much and came out with a pittance of a settlement that would not even pay for my meds for a year. He convinced me that no one gets medical coverage past the settlement date. I am smarter now but not by much. (LOL)

My new attorney does not seem worried but I like to know ahead of time what I am getting into. If anyone has been through one of these hearings I would like to know what to expect. Also if anyone has any advice on what to do next to protect myself I would appreciate it.

Since the accident I have lost my marriage, my ability to drive, shop at Malls (too long a walk) do just about anything active with my kids, not to mention the lowerd sex drive from the meds (I am only 44 and was hurt at 37). I exhausted my savings the first year and now have been reduced to living on welfare in state assisted housing. I need a break!! (Just not a break in one of my discs if you please!)

Thanks for listening to my rant.
The Bard of Ohio

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Old 05-22-2006, 05:38 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 54
Advice seeker HB User
Re: Administrative Law Judge Hearing..What to expect?

Has your lawyer requested an "on the record" review? My husband was approved "on the record" and didn't have to go before the judge. If you aren't approved "on the record" you will then go before the judge.

Old 05-23-2006, 08:23 AM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 22
jsksldjcnm HB User
Re: Administrative Law Judge Hearing..What to expect?

I just had my hearing ten days ago in California. We met in a private room with myself, my attorney, the judge, a court reporter, and a vocational expert for SSA. My husband was allowed to sit in the back but not speak. The judge was most interested in the fact that my lawyer flew out from Florida just for my case and was not charging a fee. He works for an organization owned by a drug company that provides the medications needed for my disease which can cost $120,000.00 per year. They provide free legal assistance to people with my disease who are trying to get SSDI. Once the judge understood why no attorneys fees were being paid he got on with business.

He asked me a lot of questions about my disease, why I had to quit working, my prognosis, medications, and activities of daily living. When I finished answering questions, he allowed my attorney to ask me questions. He just had a couple of questions about things that didn't come up in the earlier questioning. At that point the judge addressed the Vocational Expert and gave him a hypothetical situation with a person with my disease and limitations. The judge asked the VE if a person with those limitations could continue working as a nurse. The VE answered "no." The judge then gave the VE the same set of hypotheticals and asked if, in his opinion, there was ANY type of work a person with those limitations could perform. Again, he answered "no." The VE then made a very kind statement about my work history and accomplishments in my nursing career.

The judge then said we were finished and he would review the case ( he just got it the day before when another judge was hospitalized) and would issue a written decision. Before we left, he verifed with my attorney that he had signed a fee waiver and verified that it was in my file. This gave me further hope that I will be approved.

Before we went in for the hearing my attorney told me that if the VE states that I can't work the judge usually approves the claim. After all, the VE is THEIR expert witness. So I am hopeful that in the next few months I will receive approval and back pay.

Good luck with your hearing. I was worried about it for nothing. I thought it would be humiliating and degrading but I could not have been treated with more respect and courtesy.


Last edited by jsksldjcnm; 05-23-2006 at 08:25 AM.

Old 05-24-2006, 12:08 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 437
charliecat31 HB User
Re: Administrative Law Judge Hearing..What to expect?

Hi Shakespeare
Are you and I the same person? Your situation sounds much like my own. Hurt 7 years ago and work, long drawn out crap with WC before I could even get anyone to agree that I was injured and in pain, etc..

I was declared PTD with WC last year and just had my SSD hearing recently. It was very similar to the other post so I won't repeat the details. My case is pending until they can get the last of my doctor's records that my attorney has been requesting since February. The Vocational Expert at my hearing was also saying that in my situation I would not be able to work so I too am hopeful that I will be approved.

If your attorney has given you any paper work you might want to look through and see if he gave you a list of potential questions the judge will ask you for the hearing. If not, ask him if he has this and can send it to you. It was very helpful for me because then I knew what to expect and to have some dates and things in my head before going. They will go over your work history for the past 15 years, what your duties were, how much you lifted, walked, stood, etc. and all your medical information. What you do on a good and bad day, sleep pattern, differences in good and bad days, frequency of both.

It wasn't too bad. I know nothing anyone can say is going to stop you from worrying if you are anything like me. But please know I wish you the best of luck! Any questions just let me know

Hang in there!

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