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Social Security Disability Attorney in Chicago, IL

Attorney for Lay and Expert Witnesses at Your Social Security Disability Hearing

One of the most important determinants of success at your Social Security Disability hearing is the testimony of expert witnesses and other witnesses. Vocational experts and medical experts may be called by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to testify either in person or by telephone or video conferencing. You are also allowed to bring your own “lay” witnesses that have knowledge of your impairment and can provide the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with testimony that may help your case. Cross-examination of expert witnesses is critical in securing a positive outcome at your hearing. For this reason, it is very helpful to have an experienced Social Security Disability attorney in your corner.

At Pearson Disability Law, LLC, we have helped thousands of individuals in Chicago and throughout Illinois secure approval for Social Security Disability benefits. Our managing attorney Jonathan L. Pearson has devoted his entire legal career to disability law. He is a member of the Chicago Bar Association and National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) and he puts his experience to work to help clients become approved for the benefits they need and deserve. Mr. Pearson personally prepares clients for their Social Security Disability hearing, including helping with expert witnesses and other witnesses you may want to bring to the hearing to help your case.

Lay Witnesses

In some cases, it makes sense to bring a lay witness to your hearing to support your testimony. In calling a lay witness, it is important to choose someone who is honest, articulate, enthusiastic about testifying, and is knowledgeable about your medical condition. ALJs tend to give less weight to the testimony of family members and friends. For this reason, you should choose individuals who are able to give more objective assessments of your condition. Examples of good lay witnesses include caregivers, former employers, former co-workers, and church members.

Medical Experts

In a small number of cases (approximately 15%), the SSA may choose to call a medical expert (ME) to testify. MEs are typically only called in cases involving complex conditions or where there are questions about the medical history of the claimant. The job of the ME is to review the records and testify as to whether the impairment of the claimant meets or equals a qualifying condition. You have the right to call your own medical expert. However, this is usually very expensive and should only be done if absolutely necessary to win your case. On the other hand, if you have a doctor or physician you see on a regular basis that knows your condition and is willing to testify for little or no fee, this may be a viable option.

Vocational Experts

Vocational experts (VEs) participate in approximately 70% of Social Security Disability hearings. VEs are called to testify on the ability of the claimant to perform their past work or any work at all. If the VE testifies that you are still able to perform work, the claim may be denied. For this reason, aggressive cross-examination of the VE often makes the difference between success and failure in your case.

Telephone Testimony

In recent years, a growing number of Social Security Disability hearings use expert testimony provided by telephone or video conference. The SSA uses these options to save time and money. Unfortunately, telephone testimony greatly inhibits the ability of your attorney to cross-examine the witness. For example, it is nearly impossible by telephone to determine the demeanor of the witness, whether or not they are paying full attention, fumbling through notes, etc. If you have a disability hearing scheduled and there will be expert testimony by telephone, it is important to discuss your options with a disability attorney as soon as possible.

When you are denied benefits and appeal to an Administrative Law Judge, this is statistically your best opportunity to win approval. During your ALJ hearing, handling expert witnesses and other witnesses will play a major role in the outcome. At Pearson Disability Law, LLC, Mr. Pearson handles each case personally and assists clients during all phases of the application and appeals process. He also handles all cases on a contingency basis, so you never pay upfront attorney fees. For skilled guidance with all aspects of Social Security Disability benefits in Illinois, contact our office today at 312-999-0999 for a free consultation.

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