You will not be called as a witness for every client you have who is filing for Social Security disability. Many Social Security disability hearings occur without witnesses, or with witnesses other than an applicant’s social worker. However, if you are asked to participate in a Social Security disability hearing, it is important to know what to expect.
Typically, This Is What Happens
You will be notified of the hearing date, time, and place by your client or his attorney. When you arrive at the hearing:
- You will be sworn in and informed that you are testifying under oath.
- The administrative law judge (ALJ) will ask you questions.
- Your client, or his attorney, may ask you questions once the ALJ has completed questioning.
The questions will usually be about the kinds of activities that your client can and cannot do because of his disability. If your client is receiving counseling for a mental condition, you may also be asked about your client’s attendance and compliance with the counseling plan. You will be a particularly useful witness if you have information that is not available in your client’s medical record or if you can help clarify some points of ambiguity.
Your client’s attorney may speak to you before the hearing and you should feel comfortable asking any questions you have about the Social Security disability hearing process or about why you are testifying. You and your client’s attorney have a common goal of trying to get your client the help he needs to move forward, so please do not hesitate to ask any questions you have prior to the hearing day.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.