Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How important is testimony at a SSDI hearing?

Your testimony at a Social Security Disability hearing is extremely important. This does not mean you should study the possible questions you will be asked and memorize answers you think will help you. You should have an idea of the types of questions that will be asked but you do not want your testimony to come across as scripted. The perfect answer to a question for your case that is thought to be scripted can hurt you allot more than a bad honest answer. I have seen good medical record cases lose because of testimony and not so strong medical record cases win because of testimony given. The sure way to hurt your case is to clearly exaggerate your symptoms. The best way to help your case is to come across as believable and honest. The best way to come across as credible is to tell the truth about your condition and why it keeps you from being able to work. It is not just words spoken you are being evaluated the entire time you are in the hearing and sometimes in the waiting room. One example I often see is that claimants may exaggerate or not understand how long they can sit. A claimant may say "I can only sit 5 minutes" and then proceed to sit through the hearing for an hour. I understand that many times people sit in pain because they think they can't get up during the hearing but you can. Another example is if there is no record of you being prescribed a cane and back brace and you show up with a cane and back brace exposed over your clothes chances are the ALJ will think you are putting on a show. If you have a cane or brace that is not prescribed by a doctor but you need it and got it on your own, don't say it was prescribed by a doctor. Be honest and say I got it on my own because it helps. For more on testimony at a hearing go to my web page Social Security Disability hearing.