The administrative law judge in your Michigan Social Security disability case
An administrative law judge (ALJ) will preside over your Michigan Social Security disability hearing. Administrative law judges differ from courtroom judges in that they typically do not wear judicial robes and you will not be expected to stand when the ALJ enters the room. However, you should show the ALJ the same respect that you would show a courtroom judge.
The function of the ALJ is to deliver a ruling about your entitlement to disability benefits. The ruling of the ALJ is an independent decision that is not influenced by the fact that your disability case was previously denied at the time of your initial application. You may be pleased to learn that more than half of the judges’ decisions nationwide are in favor of the claimant, making these the best odds of winning at any step in the entire Social Security appeals system.
The Social Security hearing is informal and not “adversarial.” Stated differently, you will not be cross-examined by a lawyer on the other side and it is unlikely the ALJ will cross-examine you. The ALJ is not your opponent. Rather, the ALJ will work to find out the facts about your disability claim in order to make an independent decision about your claim for Michigan Social Security disability benefits.
By the time a claimant appears before an ALJ at a hearing, he or she has waited a long time and his or her application for disability benefits has been denied, often without a reasonable explanation. Not surprisingly, many claimants are displeased at this point. The Social Security claim process system is cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating.
As frustrated and irritated as you may feel, it is essential not to take your anger out on the ALJ. Remember, the ALJ did not create this system nor is he or she responsible for the issues that you have had with the system. Moreover, the ALJ is all too familiar with all of the problems and complaints with the Social Security appeals system so it is not necessary for you to repeat these problems to the ALJ. You also will not help your benefits case by asking the ALJ questions about your case such as “Why have I been denied?” or “Why has it taken so long for me to have a hearing?”
On the other hand, it is appropriate for you to ask the ALJ is for clarification of any questions he or she asks of you. It is not uncommon for a judge or lawyer to ask a simple question in a complicated way, a common complaint of the legal profession. Do not be intimidated by an unclear question that is asked of you. If you do not understand a question, do not hesitate to respectfully ask for an explanation.
You should speak to the ALJ in your own words, with politeness and honesty. In fact, it will help your case if you do not use legal or medical terminology at the hearing but, rather, speak to the ALJ in the same manner as you would speak to an old friend you are bringing up to date about your life.
If you would like to speak with an experienced Michigan Social Security disability lawyer about appealing the denial of your application for Michigan disability benefits or to prepare you for your hearing before an administrative law judge, please contact disability attorney Paul J. Whiting III. Your initial consultation is free.
Michigan disability lawyers
26300 Northwestern Highway, Suite 301
Southfield, Michigan 48076