5 Tips to Help Your Believability at the Hearing
Although the quality of your medical record will play a prominent role in whether or not your request for Social Security Disability benefits is approved, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will also assess your credibility at the hearing to determine whether or not you will be awarded benefits. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), credibility is defined as “the extent to which an individual's statements about symptoms can be relied upon as probative evidence in determining whether an individual is disabled.” Even the most deserving claimants can compromise their chances of receiving benefits by not appearing truthful and believable enough during their hearings. Here are 5 tips that will help you boost your credibility and help to ensure that you receive the benefits to which you're entitled. 1. Be specific If you want to appear credible at your hearing, be as specific as possible when answering the ALJ's questions. Be prepared to provide detailed answers to questions like, “How much weight can you carry?” or “How far can you walk?” Here are some more questions that you might want to practice answering prior to your hearing. 2. Dress conservatively Although Social Security Disability hearings are less formal than appearances at state or federal courts, you should still take care to dress conservatively. Dressing too formally should be avoided, as well, because it could send the message that you're still capable of getting a job and working. Try to dress in a nice, respectful way at the hearing. The ALJ will not take your testimony seriously if you wear clothing that doesn't command respect. In other words, shorts, flip flops, and tank tops are not an appropriate outfit for a Social Security Disability hearing. 3. Don't exaggerate your symptoms At your hearing, the ALJ will inquire about the pain you experience as a result of your disability. For example, you may be asked to classify your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. If you consistently state that your pain is a 10, the ALJ may think you're exaggerating and question the credibility of your testimony. To boost the credibility of your testimony, talk about when you experience the most pain and when the pain subsides. For example, your pain may be severe at night or in cold weather but lessen at other times. It's highly unlikely that you're in severe pain 24/7. 4. Be polite, but don't smile too much It's important to act polite at your hearing, but don't make the mistake of smiling too much. If you're too smiley and happy-looking at your hearing, the ALJ may think your condition is not as severe as you say it is. In addition, if you feel the need to cry at all during your hearing, let those emotions out. A good number of claimants cry during their hearings because the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be so exhausting on an emotional level. 5. Sit or stand as necessary If you experience pain when you sit continuously, feel free to change positions often during the hearing. Don't feel like you have to sit down the entire time. In fact, it's better that you don't because the ALJ could use it against you if you say in your testimony that you have difficulty sitting for more than a few minutes, but you sit through the entirety of your one-hour hearing. Do You Have More Questions about What to Expect at Your Hearing? We'd be glad to help. Please fill out our online contact form today for a free evaluation.