By Stacey Laskin, an Advocate from the Chicago Binder & Binder® office
Stacey Laskin is an Advocate from Binder & Binder®, and is a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz School of Law. Although she is stationed out of the Binder & Binder® Chicago office, she travels frequently to meet clients for hearings in Michigan, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
You've spent restless nights playing out the exchange. The judge is a kindly woman in a black robe, she smiles, and she asks you, "What's wrong?" You both cry together, and then she hands you a check, which you use to pay off your mortgage and buy a celebratory chocolate cake.
Then you wake up to spend another day worrying about why Dr. So Busy won't answer the phone and whether you should wear new shoes to your hearing. The entire process is exhausting. And this is why, after your hearing, you'll inevitably still have questions.
These are the ones I'm most commonly asked:
Did I Win? Social Security judges, experts and representatives speak in jargon. We use abbreviations, numbers, regulations and rule citations to talk about the experiences you live. As a result, it can be difficult to determine exactly what happened at a hearing.
Occasionally, a judge will issue an official decision at a hearing. Other times, a judge will only give an indication as to what his or her decision may be. More often than not, the hearing ends with some ambiguity.
Even when the judge explicitly states that he or she has issued a decision on-the-record, many clients don't realize they've won benefits until afterward, when I've shaken their hands and expressed my congratulations.
This proves there really is no such thing as a stupid question. I should be able to help decipher the "harrumphs" and the code words.