How to Act and Present Yourself at a Disability Hearing Before a Judge

February 14, 2020
Dayes Law Firm

A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is the second phase of the appeals process after a request for reconsideration on a denied disability claim is unsatisfactory. During this phase, the way you act and present yourself in court can have an impact on the ALJ’s decision to approve disability benefits.

If you have a disability hearing scheduled and want a chance at getting the benefits you need, our disability lawyers are here to help. Learn more about preparing for a hearing in a free consultation.

Arrive on Time

It is important to be punctual on the day of your hearing. Being late or failing to show up to court does not leave a good impression with the ALJ. It is best to arrive about 15 to 20 minutes early to court. Allow yourself extra time to travel to the courthouse to prevent traffic or other obstacles from making you late.

Be Polite and Respectful

Before your appeal goes to a hearing, you need to know how to present yourself in court. An ALJ is not supposed to base a decision on disability benefits on whether or not he or she likes you, but biases do happen. You want to take care to treat the ALJ with respect and adhere to the rules of the courtroom.

Do not interrupt the ALJ when he or she speaks. Carefully listen to all the ALJ has to say and make sure you understand any questions being asked before answering. If you are interrupted by the judge, it is ok to speak up – just respectfully explain you would like the opportunity to provide a full answer.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Do not lie during your disability hearing, even if you are afraid the truth may hurt the possibility of your claim being approved. The ALJ is able to access your medical records and compare your testimony to the facts presented in those records. If you lie to the judge and he or she uncovers the inconsistency, he or she may choose to deny your claim.

Be Specific When Testifying

Before your hearing, review all documents related to your claim, including your full medical record. Refamiliarizing yourself with this information prior to the hearing helps you best answer questions about your disabling condition and your disability claim.

When the ALJ asks questions of you, provide specific and complete answers. Be sure to include all relevant details in order to fully explain the effects of your condition and how your condition has created limitations for you. Make sure your answers pertain to the question asked of you – you do not want to go off topic.

Dress for the Occasion

The hearing will take place in a courtroom, so it is important you dress appropriately for court. Business attire is recommended, though you do not need to be as formal as to wear a suit. Jeans and t-shirts are not appropriate to wear to court. Do not wear dirty, torn or shabby clothing.

The goal of your hearing is to prove that you have a disability. Failing to dress appropriately for court will not help the ALJ see you in a favorable light. Dressing poorly shows disrespect.

Get the Legal Advice You Need

If you intend to appeal your disability claim after a reconsideration denial, an experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability attorney from our firm is prepared to help guide you through the process. We understand what it takes to have a successful outcome at a disability hearing.

Request a free, no-obligation consultation to get started. There are no upfront fees and payment is only due if we recover disability benefits for you.

Call Dayes Law Firm anytime at 1-800-503-2000.