Most Social Security disability applicants will need to attend a disability hearing before an administrative law judge to obtain benefits. During your Social Security disability hearing, the administrative law judge may call a medical expert as a witness. Medical experts at disability hearings give their opinion on whether the claimant’s disability is severe enough to prevent him or her from working.
Discuss Your Case With a Las Vegas Social Security Disability Attorney
If you are pursuing Social Security disability benefits, working with an experienced attorney is important. At Roeschke Law, LLC Las Vegas, our attorneys know how to skillfully cross-examine medical experts in disability hearings for the benefit of our clients. We will also present evidence showing that our client’s disability prevents them from maintaining gainful employment. Contact Roeschke Law, LLC Las Vegas today to schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about our legal services.
The Role of a Medical Expert (ME) in a Disability Hearing
Las Vegas residents whose disability or medical condition prevents them from working may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration denies most first-time applications for benefits. As a result, most claimants need to appeal the denial of their benefits. This first step of the appeal process is to request a reconsideration. If that is denied, the claimant will need to request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The Social Security Administration will only award disability benefits when the claimant can prove that his or her disability prevents him or her from substantial gainful activity, including working. During these disability hearings, it has become more common for a medical expert (ME) to be called to provide testimony regarding the claimant’s case and medical condition.
Medical experts are usually not the claimant’s personal physician. Additionally, medical experts typically don’t work for the Social Security Administration. Medical experts are not the same doctor that a claimant will visit during his or her consultative examination. The two doctors are not the same, and they play different roles.
The Purpose of Medical Experts at Disability Hearings
In some cases, the claimant’s attorney will work with a medical expert who will testify on behalf of the claimant. In other cases, the judge may call on a medical expert to help the judge decide the case. In every disability hearing, the purpose of calling a medical expert to testify is to establish the extent of the claimant’s limitations. The medical expert will also provide testimony as to whether or not the claimant’s limitations qualify the individual for Social Security disability benefits.
When a medical expert provides testimony at a disability hearing, the expert can establish the severity of the applicant’s disability or impairment. The Social Security Administration uses a manual commonly called the Blue Book to determine whether a claimant is entitled to benefits. The Blue Book contains numerous qualifying medical conditions arranged by bodily system.
In addition to establishing whether the applicant is eligible for benefits, medical experts can also use their expertise to establish the applicant’s onset date. The onset date is important in Social Security disability cases because it determines whether or not the applicant is entitled to back pay. The onset date will also factor into the amount of back pay to which the claimant is entitled. Suppose a medical expert testified that the applicant has been disabled for one and a half years as of the date of the disability hearing. In that case, the court may decide that the applicant is entitled to two years of back pay from the Social Security Administration.
The Effect of the Medical Expert’s Opinion on the Hearing
The medical expert uses his or her medical training and experience to shed light on whether or not the claimant’s impairment meets or is equal to a qualifying medical condition. When a medical expert provides testimony that the applicant’s medical condition or impairment meets the Blue Book’s requirements, it’s more likely that the administrative law judge will decide that the applicant is entitled to benefits.
What Will the Administrative Law Judge Ask the Medical Expert in a Disability Hearing?
Your attorney will have the opportunity to ask the medical expert questions. Should the judge call a medical expert as a witness in your case, your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the medical expert. At Roeschke Law, LLC Las Vegas, our disability attorneys have extensive experience cross-examining medical experts in a way that the medical experts will likely agree to certain facts that point towards your disability and how it affects you.
Should a medical expert begin testifying in a way that is unhelpful to you, your attorney may be able to ask questions showing that the expert doesn’t have a fully informed opinion. For example, your attorney may ask the medical expert if he or she has ever personally examined the claimant or read the medical data pertaining to your condition.
Your attorney may ask whether the medical expert would need more evidence before forming an opinion about how your disability affects you. Finally, your attorney can ask specific, pointed questions to draw out the medical expert’s opinion on your condition. For example, your attorney may ask whether or not your functional limitations limit your ability to read small print or work with small objects, preventing you from working.
Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney Today
If you or your loved one will be attending a Social Security disability hearing, you need a knowledgeable disability attorney present to advocate for your rights. At Roeschke Law, LLC Las Vegas, one of our skilled attorneys can represent you at the hearing, cross-examining the witnesses and presenting evidence in your favor. We will guide you through the entire claims process from start to finish. Contact Roeschke Law, LLC Las Vegas today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about our services.