How to Prepare for Your Disability Hearing

Artwork: Robin Mead

Getting denied when you first apply is so hard. Take it one step at a time. The anger is exhausting. See if you can refocus. Starts with focusing on yourself. ‘I deserve support’. ‘Things are changing’. ‘I’m going to be a part of what’s changing’. And balance with little things that make you happy. Comedy shows, music, tea and crumpets. Focus on how deserving you are and treat yourself super well. You are innocent. And beautiful.” – Laura Partland

If your hearing is in a few weeks or a few months or even a year or more away…

Now is the very best time you can make the very biggest difference. Then when you get to your hearing it will be super easy to for the judge to just approve you! Or they might even read your records before the hearing and cancel the hearing and just approve you (it happens!).

Attorney Scott Davis says, “If you are trying to win your case the day of your hearing, you are probably in trouble.” This is true. If you are able to do a few things to help your case before your hearing, you won’t have to worry about the day of the hearing.

Here’s some great things you can do while waiting for your hearing:

Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved

🌺 Now is the perfect time. You do not have to do a lot. A few minutes each a day can add up to make a big difference. Many people spend a lot of time and energy worrying about what they will say at their hearing. There are so many, many things that are more important than what you say at your hearing. Please take a look and see if there are things you might like to do to improve your chances right now.

Collect and Read Your Medical Records

🌺 Many lawyers do not look through all the records until a few weeks before the hearing. Some don’t look until a few days before. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing what your records say now, while there is still time? (Hint: Do not read visit summaries or online records. These are not your full records).

Check Your Social Security File

🌺 Some people arrive at their hearings and discover that some of their medical records are missing. For mysterious reasons, having a lawyer does not always solve this problem.

What Happens Next

🌺 A timeline of what happens when.

Make Your Life a Little Easier

🌺 Tips for financial survival and a (slightly) easier life while you are applying.


🌺 Click here if you run into a problem with your application

Check your date last insured

🌺 If you are applying for SSDI, you may wish to check your Date Last Insured. If it is coming up soon, you want to do everything possible to get the best medical evidence you can before that day arrives.

Learn a little about SSI

🌺 If you are applying for SSI, the way you are living right now can make your backpay check go up or down.

Get a lawyer or work with the lawyer you already have

🌺 Most people find it helpful to have a lawyer with them at their hearing. Hint: Please don’t think your lawyer is doing everything and all you have to do is sit and wait for your hearing. Many people think this. And many people regret thinking this.

Get Reconsidered

🌺 Some states don’t go straight to a hearing, instead they have a short stage called “Request for Reconsideration.” If you are at this stage, see the link above.

Fill Out Forms

🌺 If you have already requested a hearing, there are no more forms for you to fill out. If you have not yet requested a hearing, or requested reconsideration, here is where to find forms and how to answer questions. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer will send in these forms for you (but it is still helpful to read this link and learn about questions yourself).

Speed Up the Process

🌺 Ways to get a faster hearing or decision.

Get ready for the Big Day

🌺 Articles about hearings.

Prepare for Questions

🌺 Here’s some questions the judge may ask during your hearing, and strategies for answering.

What Happened at Your Disability Hearing?

🌺 Stories from the field

Updated January 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

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