Dos and Don’ts for Testifying at a Disability Hearing

DOs and DONTs for TESTIFYING AT YOUR DISABILITY HEARING

Your disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is your opportunity to explain how your medical and/or mental impairments prevent you from working. The hearing will be in a question & answer format, however, so do not make speeches or try to convince the ALJ about how disabled you are – that will usually backfire. Instead, just answer the ALJ’s questions, honestly and thoughtfully.DOs and DONTs for TESTIFYING AT YOUR DISABILITY HEARING

These are a few pointers I give all my clients before a hearing:

DO answer all questions out-loud, in words

DON’T answer by nodding or shaking your head, or saying uh-huh

 

DO tell the truth

DON’T exaggerate

DON’T omit relevant information

 

DO answer all questions fully

DON’T go off on a tangent – just answer the question that is before you

 

DO look the ALJ in the eye

DON’T read anything while testifying

 

DO listen carefully to the complete question before you answer it

DON’T interrupt the ALJ – ever

 

DO inform the ALJ if you do not understand the question

DON’T try to answer a question you do not understand

DO inform the ALJ if you do not know the answer to a question

DON’T make stuff up (this is a common problem with dates)

 

DO advise the ALJ if you are guessing or estimating in your answer

DO take your medication as prescribed the day of the hearing

DON’T take more than prescribed, as it may cause difficulty answering questions

DON’T skip your medication in order to appear more disabled than you are

DO arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the time scheduled for your hearing

DON’T show up late – this may result in a dismissal of your claim

Read more: What to Expect at a Disability Hearing

 

DO wear comfortable clothing

DON’T “dress down” to appear more disabled than you are

DON’T “dress up” unless that is normal for you – you need to be comfortable

 

DO stand up if you are uncomfortable sitting

DON’T sit in pain, especially if you have testified that you cannot sit for long

DO move around if you need to

 

DON’T walk towards the ALJ

DO treat the ALJ with respect

DON’T react if you feel like the ALJ is not treating you with respect

DO give the ALJ all the information that is pertinent to your disability

DON’T whine

DON’T talk about how honest and hardworking you are

DON’T tell the ALJ about how many taxes you paid

DON’T compare your disability to others’

DON’T tell the ALJ you can’t work because of the economy, how far you would have to drive, you don’t like working indoors, you couldn’t earn enough at minimum wage, you don’t know how to use computers … or any reason not related to your impairments.

This may seem like a lot but we can help coach you through this sometimes nerve racking ordeal. Let us help make your disability hearing a calm and smooth process. Contact us today.

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