Will I have to testify at my disability hearing? by John M. Driskill, Esq.
Yes! I am surprised how many clients ask if they’ll have to testify at their own hearing. Your credible testimony is often the most important factor in winning your disability case. That is why it is so important for you to go through your testimony thoroughly with your attorney well before the hearing. It is important for you to have thought about the best way to answer difficult questions.
Who asks the questions?
Mostly, it depends on the judge. Some judges ask virtually all the questions – from background information like your age, weight, or whether you smoke, to what problems you have when performing routine household activities like making a bed or washing dishes. When such a judge takes control of the hearing there might only be a few very specific questions left for your attorney to ask.
In contrast, there are other judges who ask very few questions, if any. In that case, your attorney will ask most of the questions about your situation. Hopefully, they will be asked in a manner that puts you in the most favorable light possible (i.e. emphasizing sympathetic facts and minimizing negative facts).
What kind of questions will be asked?
You can get a good idea about what questions will be asked by reviewing the forms you completed for the Social Security Administration during the appeals process. Most of the questions – regardless of whether the judge or your attorney asks them – will focus on three different areas.
• Work history. How you describe your past work can win or lose your case so be accurate!
• Key symptoms of your various impairments such as pain, where it hurts, how often it hurts, and things you have tried to minimize those problems (e.g., surgery, prescription pain medication, physical therapy, etc.).
• How your conditions limit you. What are your limitations in sitting, standing, lifting, walking, as well as how your condition causes problems performing everyday household chores?
For expert advice on testifying at your hearing or any other concerns you may have regarding Social Security disability, please contact the Board Certified attorneys at Morgan & Weisbrod, L.L.P. 1.800.800.6353.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.