Testifying at your Social Security Disability HearingPosted December 17, 2014 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® The most common emotion clients express to us prior to their hearing is anxiety. Most clients are concerned that they do not know how to testify properly at the hearing and they feel that they may say something detrimental to their claim. Below are a few tips that I share with my clients about how to properly testify at a hearing.
Tell the Truth
It is far less damaging to your claim to tell the truth, even if it is unsupportive to your claim, than it is to have the Judge believe you are being untruthful. Remember, Judges have access to your medical records because they are in your disability file. Statements you have made to doctors about your daily activities, work activity, or functioning are often included in your records. If you tell your doctor that you go on long walks daily, it is important to avoid telling the Judge that you cannot get out of bed on most days. Honesty is always the best rule to live by during your testimony.
Don’t Exaggerate-be consistent with reality
When testifying, do not overstate your limitations, especially when the Judge clearly sees your statement is untrue. The most common example I see is when claimants say they can only sit for 5 minutes at one time. Usually, the claimant has been sitting for around 20 minutes in front of the Judge by the time they make this statement. Making statements that are inconsistent with the Judge’s own observations strongly undermines a claimant’s credibility. Be careful not to make statements that are inconsistent with reality.
Avoid minimizing your conditions
Another common mistake claimants make is describing their conditions in a manner that makes them seem less severe than they actually are. For many people, it is instilled in them from an early age to present a tough outer exterior and not talk about pain, mental illness, or limitations. Be cautious about making this mistake. If you give the Judge the impression your conditions are not severe, he or she will not go to great lengths to disagree with you. You have to be your own best witness. Judges cannot make a determination about the severity of your conditions just by looking at you. It is important for you to clearly express the severity of your conditions during testimony.
Hire a Representative
It is beneficial to have an experienced representative present at your hearing. An experienced Representative can properly prepare you for your hearing so that you are ready to testify in a manner most supportive to your claim. In addition, a Representative will know what questions to ask you so that the severity of your condition is clearly portrayed during testimony. Finally, Representatives are experienced in rehabilitating claimants who make unsupportive statements. If you are interested in hiring an experienced Representative for your hearing, please contact Premier Disability Services, LLC® for a Free Case Evaluation or call us at 1-866-382-7872.
By: Thomas A. Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®