Preparing for the Social Security Disability Hearing
The big day is finally here. After waiting for months on end, your Social Security disability hearing is about to take place. The hearing is the best opportunity you have to win benefits because it allows you to tell an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) your story. For many claimants, however, the hearing is often the most stressful part of the Social Security disability appeals process. It isn't uncommon for claimants to get emotional during a hearing because they have to talk about how much their life has been impacted by their medical condition. Here are some tips that may help to relieve your anxiety, give you an idea of what to expect, and prepare you to testify at your hearing. Meet with Your Attorney before the Hearing Prior to your hearing, set up a meeting with your Atlanta Social Security disability attorney, so you can discuss the issues that will be addressed at the hearing and get answers to any questions you may have about the hearing process. Dress Neatly, But Comfortably Dress neatly at your hearing. Social Security disability hearings are informal in nature, but you shouldn't wear blue jeans and a t-shirt. That being said, it's not necessary to wear formal clothing like you would at a wedding, either. Be Truthful When the ALJ asks a question, don't think about whether the answer you give will help or hurt your case – be truthful about your strengths and limitations. Don't pretend to be in pain when you aren't or fake cry. On the other hand, don't minimize your problems. If you feel uncomfortable staying seated, don't be embarrassed to get up and move around. Be Specific and Descriptive Be specific when answering the judge's questions. For example, rather than saying that you can can't walk very far, give a specific example of a time when you tried to walk a certain distance and were unable to do so because you were in pain. It's a good idea to practice giving your testimony in advance, so you'll be prepared to answer the judge's questions at your hearing. You should also aim to be descriptive when talking about your pain. For instance, rather than saying, “I have backaches,” say, “When I get a backache, I have to lie down because the pain is so severe. It hurts so bad that I can barely do anything. Even talking makes the pain worse.” Approximate Dates When possible, provide the judge with specific dates, but if you can't remember the exact dates, do your best to give an approximate date, month, season and year, or just year. Not everybody is good with dates, so your judge won't think you're being untruthful if you happen to get a date wrong. Tell Your Story The hearing is your chance to tell your story to a judge. Some claimants mistakenly believe that they should keep their mouths shut and give the shortest answers possible to their judge's questions, but this isn't the case when it comes disability hearings. You need to provide plenty of facts, details, and explanations in your testimony to win your case. Speak Clearly Your hearing will be recorded, so speak very clearly when you answer the judge's questions. Say yes or no, not uh-huh or uh-uh. Additionally, avoid nodding your head in reply to your judge's questions. Has Your Application for Social Security Disability Benefits Been Denied? If your SSI or SSDI application has been denied, contact Atlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk today for a free consultation. Louis B. Lusk will personally represent you at your hearing before an ALJ. Please call 800.883.7043 (or 404.250.7000) or fill out our online contact form to get in touch.