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People who are attempting to claim Social Security disability benefits in Missouri are generally required to attend a hearing as part of the process. In many cases, hearings are as short as 10 or 15 minutes. These are cases in which the judge has already decided in favor of the claimant, so there is little need for discussion. In the simplest hearings, the judge may simply verify some of the information before entering a decision.

The administrative law judges who preside over Social Security disability cases have access to the entire file of the claimant prior to the hearing. The file is likely to include medical records and any supporting evidence the claimant’s lawyer has put together in support of the claim. If the file looks sufficient to the judge to support the claim, he or she may already have decided the case even before the hearing begins.

In some cases, the administrative law judge may require further information, such as testimony from expert witnesses, before rendering a decision. Witnesses, if they are called, are likely to be medical or vocational experts who give testimony regarding the claimant’s level of disability, remaining physical or mental functionality and ability to perform available work. In cases where the judge is requesting further information or the testimony of witnesses, claimants can expect their hearings to last longer.

People in Missouri who are seeking Social Security disability benefits might want to meet with a lawyer. An attorney could potentially help by gathering evidence or speaking with government officials on the applicant’s behalf.