Some of the personal information that may need to be provided by the claimant at a Social Security disability hearing includes their contact information, age, date of birth, marital status, how many children they have, who lives in their household, their educational background, military experience, the nature of their living situation (whether they live in an apartment, a trailer, or a two-story house), other sources of income, whether they are left or right-handed, their height and weight, whether or not they smoke, and how much they drink. It’s surprising, but all of this information could impact a judge’s decision.
For example, whether a person is left or right-handed will matter if they are complaining of a hand injury. If someone claims to have trouble walking, standing, or climbing stairs, then whether or not they live in an upstairs apartment will matter. If there are children living with the claimant, the judge will want to know how old they are and how often the claimant is responsible for taking care of them. While some of these questions may seem off the wall, the answers to them could play a role in the judge’s decision. Providing this type of background information sets the stage, introduces the claimant to the judge, and helps both the claimant and judge feel more comfortable.
Are Clients Caught Off Guard By How Inclusive These Questions Are?
Since we go over the questions with our clients beforehand, they generally aren’t caught off guard by how inclusive they are. The questions run the gamut, covering everything from a claimant’s work history to the way in which their condition affects their ability to perform basic activities around the house. However, I am only going to ask the questions that I think will strengthen the case. The judge may ask any number of questions, but they will be under a time constraint. If a person has used illegal drugs or has a history of being in prison or jail, then those facts will probably come out during the hearing. Many judges will know the claimant’s criminal record before the hearing even begins. As a result, a person wouldn’t be doing themselves any favors by omitting that type of information. The more honest a judge believes a person to be, the more likely it is that the person will win their case.
What Specific Employment Information Will I Need To Provide At The SSD Hearing?
At an SSD hearing, a person will need to provide information about the preceding 15 years of employment. Social Security has determined that if someone had skills 20 years ago, those skills are not really relevant to the employment world today. Social Security is almost always more interested in the type of work that a person did, rather than the companies that they worked for. Oftentimes people will give themselves inflated titles to indicate more responsibility, but a title from one company could mean something totally different than the same title from another company.
While some people may avoid saying that they had to do any physical labor at their jobs, for Social Security purposes it’s important that the judge understands the physical nature of the work. If someone occasionally had to lift 20 or 30 pounds, then they won’t be doing themselves a favor by saying that they didn’t have to lift anything. If a person didn’t actually hire or fire anyone, then they shouldn’t list that as a job duty. A person may have been consulted with about an employee or the decision to hire or fire someone without actually making the final decision. Oftentimes, accurately describing the job history can make the difference between winning and losing a disability case. It’s very important to be accurate and remember all of the job duties—even those that were only occasionally done. Every detail can factor into what type of work Social Security determines a person is capable of carrying out.
For more information on Personal Information At SSD Hearing, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (214) 373-3761 today.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.