Social Security hearing tip: know your judge

The first thing I want to know when I receive a hearing notice for a Social Security disability claim is the name of the administrative law judge (ALJ) who will hear the case and decide the claim. It probably shouldn’t matter which judge hears your case, since they all interpret the same rules and would be looking at the same facts. But it really does matter. Each judge approaches a claim a little bit differently, and it is very helpful to know how a particular judge tends to look at a case. Also, each judge conducts the hearing in a particular way, so I prepare for the hearing in a way tailored to the ALJ who will hear the case.

This is from Gordon Gates‘ article about knowing who your judge is in your Social Security case:

I could not agree more! When someone contacts me with a hearing already set,  I ask who the judge is on their case.

Here are some examples of how judges differ:

  • Most judges have certain pet peeves. Knowing them, and more importantly,  knowing what to avoid doing during a hearing can make quite a bit of difference!
  • Some judges will accept certain evidence, while others will not.
  • Some judges will allow you additional time after the hearing to provide missing evidence, others will not.
  • Some judges are extremely well versed with the evidence in a case, others depend on you, or your attorney, to not only know the facts, but also to be able to cite to the exact page where the evidence appears in the exhibit file.
  • Also, there is a wide range of what judges will consider to be “sufficient evidence” to find a person disabled.

Knowing your judge may give you a critical advantage in your case. As Gordon says, “it is important, in my opinion, to obtain the assistance of a Social Security disability lawyer whose experience with the judges in your area.”

Read all of Gordon’s article here. Gordon Gates practices Social Security disability law in Maine and New Hampshire.

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