How to Prepare for the Medical Review Process

If you have an upcoming disability hearing, you may feel nervous and worry that you are unprepared. We understand that this process can be intimidating, but with the help of an attorney, you can learn how to prepare for a disability hearing. 

Start with An Application

Before you can request a hearing, you will need to complete an application. There are some risks of applying for disability on your own, so hiring a disability attorney to help can increase your chances of being awarded disability. 

Gather Medical Evidence

There are various pieces of evidence you will need to provide when appearing at a hearing for disability benefits. This tends to be one of the most challenging parts of the hearing preparation since you will need: 

  • Medical evidence
  • The medical evidence that you have available will depend on your condition, but may include physician notes, surgical records, hospital or emergency room records, medical tests, lab work, and records from other healthcare professionals.

Get Expert Opinions or Statements

Part of your case file should include statements from a medical expert. This can be your primary physician, or another doctor that you have a long-standing relationship with that can support your claim. They can write a formal statement with details about your condition as well as a “Residual Functional Capacity” report form. You will want to have all of this information before your hearing is scheduled so you can submit them to the judge. You can also include statements from friends, family, social workers, former employers, or others who can speak to the extent of your disability and ability to work. 

Hire a Disability Attorney

As mentioned above, hiring a disability attorney can significantly increase your chances of being approved during your hearing. Your attorney will be present for your disability hearing and offer support during the entire process. Hiring a disability attorney is even recommended by many judges since it’s a difficult process to navigate without experience. An attorney can help you get it right the first time and potentially help you avoid the need to appeal your disability claim further.  

Meeting with Your Attorney

There are many details of your claim that will be a part of your disability hearing. One of the advantages of working with the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill over other attorneys is we meet with our clients prior to hearings. Some others do this, but some only meet clients on the day of the hearing. Much of this is done by phone, but during our pre-hearing conferences, we essentially do a practice testimony. We ask clients questions that will likely be asked by the judge during the hearing and get to know the client’s conditions and daily activities better. We try to understand how their individual disability affects them. The attorneys will ask many of the questions that the judge might ask during the hearing. It’s good practice for the client and a good way for the attorney to prepare for the testimony. 

Understand the Hearing Process

One of the things that may make you feel comfortable in how to prepare for a disability hearing is simply understanding what the hearing process is like so you know what to expect. Most disability hearings are the same, with minor differences based on the preferences of your judge. The process can be broken down into these basic parts:

  • You and the vocational expert will be sworn in by the court reporter
  • The Administrative Law Judge will begin asking you questions about your work history and what restrictions you currently have
  • The Administrative Law Judge will ask the vocational expert questions about their option of how someone with your disabilities may be able to perform certain jobs
  • The SSA may call a medical expert in to examine medical data in your case
  • The vocational expert may be asked questions that suggest you could perform other jobs and your disability attorney can object and/or ask additional questions to clarify
  • Your disability attorney may cross-examine the vocational expert

Contact the Disability Attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill

Knowing how to prepare for a disability hearing can significantly increase your chances of being approved. It is wise to have social security disability representation throughout the application process and during your hearing. If you still have questions about what happens at a disability hearing, contact The Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill for a free consultation.


When you’re unable to work due to a medical condition but still need a steady source of income, it may feel hopeless. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for those with qualifying medical conditions through the SSDI and SSI programs. So, what benefits are available and how do you know if you qualify for disability benefits? 

How Do You Qualify for SSDI?

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits program is available for those who have worked most of their life and paid into the social security system. Under the SSA, you must meet a variety of requirements:

  • The most basic requirement is that you are unable to do the work you used to perform.
  • The SSA also must determine that you are unable to adjust to doing another job
  • You must also have a medical condition that is severe and expected to persist for at least one year or result in death. 

SSA will also determine if you qualify for disability benefits by determining if you are truly disabled. There are five questions they ask, including:

  • Are you currently working? If you earn more than $1,350 on average each month, you may not be considered disabled. 
  • Is your condition severe enough that you are limited in your ability to work for at least 12 months?
  • Is your condition one that is included on the SSA list of disabling conditions?
  • Are you unable to do the same type of work you used to do?
  • If not, is there another type of work you can do? 

Work Credits for SSDI

When the SSA determines whether or not you qualify for disability benefits, they will check your work history to see if you have earned enough work credits. The number of credits you acquired throughout your time in the workforce will vary depending on how much money you earned. In 2022, for each quarter a person earns $1,510 or more, they are given one Social Security or Medicare credit. There is a maximum of four credits given per year for each quarter the earnings requirements are met. While these work credits do play a role in your eligibility, the average of your earnings during your working years will determine how much your monthly benefit payment will be. 

The number of credits needed are as follows:

  • For those younger than age 24, 6 credits earned within a 3 year period are required. 
  • For those age 24-31, you could qualify if you have credits for working at least half of the time between age 21 and the onset of your disability. 
  • For those age 31 and older, at least 20 credits are required and must be earned within a 10-year period prior to the start of your disability.

How Do You Qualify for SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a disability benefit available for those with a limited work history. SSI is a “needs-based program” that is designed to assist those with:

  • a disability that prevents them from having gainful employment
  • a great financial need
  • those who are blind
  • or those over the age of 65

SSI payments are a set amount that may change each year depending on the Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (COLA). 

Medical conditions that qualify for SSI may include:

  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Back injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Genitourinary issues
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Digestive tract problems
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Skin disorders
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Immune disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Various syndromes
  • Hematological disorders

For more specific information about what conditions qualify for adults and children, you can visit the SSA website. 

Contact the Law Office of Karen Kraus Bill For Assistance

If you think you may qualify for disability benefits, don’t hesitate to reach out to our offices to schedule a free consultation. Applying for disability benefits on your own can be time consuming, intimidating, and may result in a denial of benefits. Your chances of a successful request for benefits, or even an appeal if you’ve been denied before, are greatly increased when you have the help of an experienced disability attorney. Reach out today with any questions you have about qualifying or appealing. Call 573-875-5200 or visit the website.