If your disability claim has been denied, you have the right to appeal this decision. Doing so may mean proceeding to a Social Security Disability appeal hearing. Attending this hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to answer questions about your claim is often necessary to pursue the disability benefits you need. Bringing a witness to your hearing, while not required, could help validate your claim.
Dayes Law Firm explains the benefits of having a witness testify on your behalf, especially if it is difficult to address the impact your disability has had on your life. Witnesses can be family members, friends, caretakers, employers, or medical professionals. If you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing a decision, schedule a free consultation to get started.
Who Can Bring a Witness to Testify?
Most disability claims are decided based on your medical records and your treating doctor's opinion regarding how your impairment limits you. For this reason, some disability applicants may not choose to bring a witness to their hearing if they think it will not help their case.
There are, however, certain situations in which a witness could be helpful, such as when you:
- Lose consciousness or awareness during an epileptic or manic episode
- Have trouble communicating due to your impairment
- Are under the age of 18 (parents are often used as witnesses)
Choosing the Right Witness
If you bring a witness to your disability hearing, it is important that you choose someone who is reliable and can speak honestly about how your impairment prevents you from functioning on a daily basis. Anyone who knows you and your limitations could be a credible witness.
A witness must be able to talk about your specific conditions, the tasks or activities you have trouble performing, how your work and personal life has suffered and any other relevant details. It is also important to note that any witnesses chosen will not be present when the ALJ questions you about your claim. They will also not know what you have already stated at the hearing.
Should your witness lie, exaggerate or misinform the ALJ about your disability, this may be grounds for a claim denial. This is why it is important to choose the right witness, but not too many either. Having one or two credible witnesses will be more beneficial to your claim that having multiple witnesses repeating the same testimony. In these cases, it is all about quality and not quantity.
Witnesses at Disability Appeal Hearings
After your witnesses have been chosen, you would need to reach out to the SSA or hearing office to inform them ahead of time. Failure to inform may result in your witnesses being unable to testify or cause your disability hearing to be delayed. It is also your responsibility to ensure that your witnesses are prepared for the hearing, know when and where it will be held and that they actually show up.
The ALJ can pick and choose which witnesses, if, any, will testify on your behalf. Make sure that your witnesses have written statements prepared about your daily struggles and limitations. These statements could be submitted to the ALJ if he or she chooses not to see your witnesses at the hearing.
Consult With One of Our Lawyers
If you need help choosing witnesses for your Social Security Disability appeal hearing, we recommend reaching out to one of our lawyers at Dayes Law Firm. We know the importance of choosing witnesses who could help your credibility and increase your chances of getting a disability claim approved.
An initial consultation with a Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer is completely free. We charge nothing to review your situation and answer any questions you may have. If we represent you, there is no upfront cost for utilizing our services unless and until we help you obtain disability benefits.
Get the legal help you need by calling 1-800-503-2000.