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The Importance of Expert Testimony: What to Expect During SSA Hearings

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: November 22, 2021
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Part 1 - Vocational Experts
        - Prepare for voacational expert testimony prior and after a hearing
        - Effective cross-examination
        - Protecting the record in case you believe an ALJ is poised to deny your client's case
Part 2 - Cross-Examination of Medical Experts & Consultative Examiners
        - To prepare for ME/CE Testimony prior to and after a hearing
        - Effective Cross-Examination
        - Protecting the record in case you believe an ALJ is poised to deny your client's case
Part 3 - What to Expect during SSA Hearings

: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: November 22, 2021

For NY - Difficulty Level: For experienced attorneys only (non-transitional)


With approximately a 28% approval rate, the majority of Social Security Disability Insurance applications are denied. Appealing these denials through a hearing are a cumbersome process that often involve disability attorneys and the testimony of medical and vocational experts. Experts are often called upon to provide employment duty details or evaluate the accommodations persons with various physical or mental disabilities may need. Additionally, experts can provide evidence of medically determinable impairments while applying SSAs definitions of symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings. This program will focus on the testimony of these experts, strategies for cross examination, and the ALJ hearing process as a whole.

This program was recorded on November 22nd, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Maria L. Sigaud

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

Laura has been licensed to practice law since 2003 in the State of Texas and is licensed in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and all four federal district courts of Texas. In 2010, she became board-certified in Social Security disability law by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification – an ABA-accredited organization and is currently on the Board. She is a naturalized U.S. Citizen and is fluent in English and Spanish.

In September 2021, Laura served as a panel speaker at SSA’s National Disability Forum, discussing various issues and solutions involving the Social Security Disability Program. From 2017-2019, Laura served as President of the Fifth Circuit Organization of Social Security Disability Claimants Representatives [“FOSSCR”] and in 2018 organized and presented a continuing legal education seminar featuring guest speakers from the Social Security Advisory Board, SSA’s Office of General Counsel, SSA’s Regional Chief, NOSSCR, a panel of Social Security disability hearing vocational experts, and others. She has been a sustaining member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (“NOSSCR”) since 2003 and has presented as a speaker on many occasions at NOSSCR conferences. In 2013, Laura began policy advocacy through NOSSCR – meeting with multiple U.S. Congressman and Senators in Washington D.C. to advocate for the Social Security Disability program.

A graduate of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Laura majored in English literature. She received her J.D. from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas and served as Vice President of the Hispanic Law Students Association. She studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina for one semester through the Southwestern Law School Los Angeles Study Abroad Program. During law school, Laura clerked for a civil litigation firm handling cases in multiple areas of the law such as labor/employment, personal injury, and toxic torts.

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Lawrence D. Rohlfing

Owner & Proprietor
Law Offices of Lawrence D. Rohlfing

Lawrence D. Rohlfing has practiced disability law since 1985. He represents the disabled and seeks to enforce their rights before the Social Security Administration, the United States District Courts, the United States Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Having been involved in thousands of disability claims and training of other lawyers, he brings considerable experience and expertise to the representation of disability claims under Social Security and ERISA.

Mr. Rohlfing has argued disability and other benefit entitlement claims in over a hundred claims before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He presented briefs in three cases to the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Rohlfing argued Black & Decker Disability Plan v. Nord to the United States Supreme Court in April 2003.

Mr. Rohlfing is a sustaining member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR). He currently serves as the Ninth Circuit Representative to the NOSSCR Board of Directors and currently serves as the Treasurer of NOSSCR sitting on the Executive Board. Mr. Rohlfing is the past chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Social Security Section. Mr. Rohlfing has presented numerous papers to bi-annual meetings of NOSSCR, the Los Angeles County Bar Association Social Security Section, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Southeast Bar Association of Los Angeles County, and the National Business Institute.

Mr. Rohlfing graduated from Whittier College in 1982. He graduated from Whittier Law School in 1985 cum laude. He is the proud father of seven children that he raises with his wife Maggie. He is actively involved in the community managing baseball and softball teams, coaching football, and serving as the elder of La Habra Christian Church.

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David F. Chermol

Managing Partner
Chermol & Fishman, LLC

Mr. Chermol is a Founding and Lead Partner at the disability law firm of Chermol & Fishman, LLC. He represents Social Security disability and SSI claimants across the United States both at the administrative level and in federal court.

From 1997 until 2007, Mr. Chermol was as an Assistant Regional Counsel for the Social Security Administration’s Office of the General Counsel in Philadelphia.

In this capacity, he served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Commissioner of Social Security in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Delaware.

Mr. Chermol was a GS-15 level attorney and served as the Commissioner’s senior disability litigator in Mid-Atlantic Region III.

He personally litigated or developed litigation strategy in most of the major disability cases resulting in published decisions in the Third and Fourth Circuits during his ten years at SSA. He received two Excellence in Service Awards and a General Counsel’s citation in his career at SSA, along with numerous other awards.

Mr. Chermol provided national and regional training to SSA’s administrative law judges with respect to disability law and how to issue legally defensible decisions. In coordination with the Department of Justice, he provided national training to SSA’s attorneys on effective oral and written appellate advocacy.

Mr. Chermol acted as SSA’s lead author, presenter, and editor for the 2006 and 2007 Continuing Legal Education courses in Pennsylvania on disability appeals in the federal courts. He served on a four-member national team to advise the Commissioner of SSA on issues pertaining to the review ability of subsidy determinations for the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

Mr. Chermol currently serves by appointment of the court as Social Security Disability Pro Se Appeals Coordinator in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He also served for several years as the Co-Chair for the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Social Security Disability Committee. He has also been named the 2013-2014 National Association of Disability Representatives Member of the Year.

Mr. Chermol was a member of the National Disability Policy Committee for President Barack Obama’s 2008 Campaign and in that capacity served as Regional Co-Director on disability issues in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Chermol won the League of Conservation Voters’ 2004 Grassroots Leadership Award for the state of Pennsylvania due to his exhaustive efforts in raising voter awareness of environmental issues. He was also nominated as one of three finalists for LCV’s national grassroots leadership award for that year.

Since 1998, Mr. Chermol has served on the regional and state wide steering committees for the environmental group Clean Water Action. Prior to attending law school, he worked in a national leadership position for Clean Water Action as a grassroots organizer in various parts of the country.

Mr. Chermol believes that his greatest contribution is serving as a Big Brother to a young man in West Philadelphia as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. If you have ever considered becoming a Big Brother or a Big Sister, don’t wait another day.

Mr. Chermol received his law degree from Temple University and his B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Boston College. He graduated high school from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia.

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David Godfrey

Senior Attorney
ABA Commission on Law & Aging

David M. Godfrey, J.D., is a senior attorney to the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging in Washington DC. He is responsible for the ABA’s role in the Administration on Community Living funded National Center on Law and Elder Rights and for producing the ABA National Aging and Law Conference. David’s expertise includes supported decision making, advance care planning, health care decision making, legal service delivery, legal ethics, and LGBT aging. Prior to joining the Commission he was responsible for elder law programming at Access to Justice Foundation in Kentucky.

Mr. Godfrey earned his B.A. with honors at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and his J.D. cum laude from the University Of Louisville School Of Law in Kentucky.

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