The general answer is yes. The majority of claimants will need to testify at their Social Security Disability hearing. This hearing is your best chance at being approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Not testifying about how your condition has affected your ability to work and perform day-to-day activities could be detrimental to your disability claim.
Our team of attorneys is well-versed in representing claimants at disability hearings. We are ready to answer any questions you may have about testifying and help explain what to expect at your hearing. The initial consultation is completely free and confidential without any obligation to retain our services.
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Your Testimony is Important at a Disability Hearing
Your testimony plays an important role at a Social Security Disability hearing. An administrative law judge’s final decision will be based on not only the medical evidence in your file (i.e. X-rays and imaging tests, treatments notes and written statements) but also the testimony you provide at the hearing.
Your testimony will allow the judge to better understand your specific medical condition and how it impacts your ability to function, perform basic work activities (including past work) and your overall life.
It is also your opportunity to clarify inconsistencies that may be apparent between your medical records and your statements. This includes any doubts the judge may have about your eligibility for disability.
Preparing to Testify at Your Disability Hearing
The idea of testifying often feels overwhelming or intimidating for claimants. We understand how nerve-wracking the experience can be. A lawyer can help calm your nerves by preparing you for what to expect at your disability hearing. He or she can help you piece together what you want to say to the judge.
In addition to the testimony you provide, the judge will ask you a series of questions. A lawyer can also help you plan your responses. Taking the time to prepare ahead of time will be beneficial to your claim.
Review Submitted Documentation
It is important to know yourself and your limitations in order to give a solid testimony. Review all the documentation submitted to the judge assigned in the case. Take a look at your initial application and your medical records, including your doctor’s notes. If you kept a journal, go over each entry where you wrote about your condition, pain levels, daily limitations, medical care and treatments.
Doing all of this will help ensure that your file is up to date. Reviewing everything submitted will also allow you to understand what the judge already knows about your claim before the hearing is held.
Think About What You Want to Say
Your testimony should provide additional support over and beyond what is in your medical records. Think about how what you say will contribute to the judge’s understanding of your condition.
The testimony you provide is your chance to talk about your abilities, limitations and struggles. For instance, if there are different challenges that you face, come up with some examples that showcase each of these challenges. Being modest about your condition is a common mistake made at hearings.
Your testimony should also be honest and detailed. If you exaggerate or minimize your symptoms but your medical records do not support what you say, the judge will question your credibility.
Tips for Testifying at Video or Telephone Hearings
Administrative law judges are currently conducting disability hearings by telephone or video. Many claimants often wonder how these hearings work. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. You can testify from the comfort of your home or in a location that is closer to your home. However, one of the biggest downsides is not being able to have face-to-face interaction with the judge.
- Find a quiet space in your home with the least amount of distractions possible.
- Do not allow family or friends to sit with you. Plan to testify on your own.
- Avoid using speakerphone to prevent feedback or echo. Consider a headset for a video call.
- Do not eat, drink or do any other activities during the hearing. Keep it professional.
- Wait until it is your turn to speak to avoid interruptions and talking over one another.
- Talk slowly and clearly so the judge can hear you and understand what you are saying.
Our Attorneys Are Here 24/7 to Take Your Call
Having legal representation at your disability hearing will allow you to focus on your testimony so that you can thoroughly explain your condition to the judge. A Phoenix Social Security Disability attorney is ready to support you during your testimony and make sure that all relevant evidence is presented.
Contact us today to get started. Initial consultations are free of charge and there are no upfront fees if we take your case.
Call 1-800-503-2000 for Trusted Legal Help.