Saturday, October 21, 2006

Social Security Disability Hearing Tips

If you have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, here are a few tips:

1. When you are in the waiting area do not talk about your case with anyone but your lawyer. You do not want something you said to be over heard by a Social Security employee that might be misiterpreted.

2. Don't over dress. If you come into the hearing dressed as if it were a job interview the ALJ might make an initial wrong impression that you could get a job.

3. You will be nervous but try not to smile too much when answering questions. An inappropriate smile may give the impression that you are being less than truthful.

4. Try to relax and be yourself. If you are being your normal self, your testimony will be more credible.

5. By the time you get to the hearing, you will have waited a long time and dealt with all the frustrations in the Social Security Disability process. Don't let yourself complain about how long you've waited or how bad the system is to the ALJ. This will not help your case.

6. Try to answer all the questions asked of you. It is OK to say that you don't understand a question. If you don't understand what is being asked, get clarification. Don't just answer what you think the Judge or lawyer was asking. If you are asked a date that some event occured and you don't know the exact date, say that you don't know the exact date but try to give an approximate date.

7. It is OK to cry. In fact, in my experience, I would say about half of the claimants at a Social Security Hearings do. If you need time to get yourself together, ask for it.

8. If you are uncomfortable sitting due to back pain or some other reason, feel free to stand and sit as you need to. Many people testify to only being able to sit for a 20 minutes and then never get up during the hearing because they don't think they are allowed. I can almost guarantee you the ALJ will put in the decision that you said you could only sit for 20 monutes but you sat through a one hour hearing.