Can I have a family member or other person come testify at my hearing? by Laura Sigaud Hernandez, Esq.
Answer: It depends on the facts of the case but in certain circumstances it may become necessary to call on the assistance of a witness, especially when it comes to mental impairments. Most judges want to hear information from witnesses that the claimant cannot provide for himself/herself. Bringing in family, friends, etc. who will just repeat the same information the claimant has already given is not helpful and may even harm the case or aggravate the judge. Also, some judges separate the witnesses at a hearing in order to “test” their consistency. This can become tricky even when there is what seems like only a small variance.
I usually will ask family, friends, caseworkers, or other types of witnesses to testify in cases involving mild mental retardation or some other cognitive deficit, or with clients who have such severe difficulties with expressing their problems I cannot rely on them to speak for themselves, or clients with severe memory issues. These are just examples. The determination of whether a witness is necessary will be made at the time you meet with your attorney to discuss all the issues involved in your case. Yet one more important reason it’s important to choose a Social Security disability lawyer who meets with you before your hearing. If you’re considering hiring an attorney to help you with your Social Security disability claim, please research your attorney’s credentials and office procedures. Some “national” firms do not meet you until the date and time of your hearing!
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.