5 Tips about Testifying at Your Social Security Hearing
When you go to a Hearing on your Social Security Disability case, you will be there to provide expert testimony on the symptoms which you experience and which keep you from being able to maintain work on a full-time, ongoing, regular basis. We can help you by developing the medical record to support your complaints and alleged limitations. Of course we can also represent you at the Hearing.
Here are 5 Tips to keep in mind.
1. A Hearing is an informal proceeding during which you describe the problems you are having and how they limit your ability to perform work. There is no one right way to state things. The Judge will be expecting to hear a story that makes sense, so just relax and do the best you can to explain what health conditions have made you unable to work.
2. BE YOURSELF. Don’t try to memorize what you are going to say. Doing this will sound planned and unnatural. Just tell your story your way. Explain why you had to stop working if your medical condition made you stop working. If your disability has gotten worse over the years, say so. It is ok to say “I do not remember” in response to a question from the Judge if this is truly the case. You are the best expert on your symptoms.
3. TELL THE TRUTH. Do not minimize your symptoms in an effort to impress the Judge with your self-discipline or manliness. Likewise do not exaggerate your limitations by saying things like “I can’t do anything all day.” Be specific and give examples of activities that you are unable to do or unable to sustain. Remember, the Judge is determining what he or she thinks you would be able to do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Avoid being led to agree with something that is untrue if it is untrue. Simply restate the correct information.
4. EXPLAIN YOR ANSWERS. In assessing your case the Judge needs to understand how your conditions affect you in terms of your ability to walk, stand, lift, carry, reach, handle, bend, stoop, crouch, kneel, crawl, etc. The Judge will also consider how well you remember, handle stress, deal with other people, pay attention and stay on task. Descriptions of your day to day challenges are helpful to illustrate your limitations. You should also be sure to tell the Judge about any side effects you have from your medications and about how you manage your pain or other symptoms through the day. Many people have good days and bad days. Describing these helps the Judge understand your situation.
5. BE RESPECTFUL. Dress is such a way as to show the Judge that you are taking him or her seriously. Clean simple clothing is fine. Avoid T-shirts with words, extremely revealing clothing and torn clothing. Do not lose your temper or take this as a time to rant about political issues. When answering a question, pause and think about your answer before giving it. Always give a verbal answer because the hearing is being audio recorded but not video recorded. You will need to say “my left shoulder hurts” rather than “I have pain here.”
Because we are a local law firm and have practiced in this area for over 30 years, we can tell you about the Judge before who you will appear and what he or she does in Hearings. We can help you before the Hearing by letting you know what kinds of questions to expect and how to put your best foot forward.