The hearing takes place, usually in a small room, with only the administrative law judge, a clerk operating a tape recorder, the claimant, the claimant’s attorney, and if the claimant is unable to testify on their own behalf, someone the claimant has brought with them. In some cases, the administrative law judge asks a medical doctor or vocational expert to testify at the hearing. No jury is present, and no spectators are allowed in to watch. Social Security will not have an attorney to argue against your case.

The judge will ask the claimant questions about his or her present condition and how it limits him or her. The claimant’s attorney will also ask questions. The judge and the attorney may both question the medical expert or vocational expert if present. The entire hearing is digitally-recorded and typed later to become part of the record on the claimant. After the hearing, the judge weighs both the evidence in the claimant’s records and testimony at the hearing to make a decision.