In most cases, the answer is yes. You may be required to testify at your Social Security Disability (SSD) hearing. Your testimony will be crucial to your disability claim. You have a chance to explain how your medical condition has affected your ability to work and perform daily tasks before an administrative law judge. Not testifying could be the deciding factor in being denied benefits.
Our attorneys have helped represent many claimants over the years at their SSD hearings. If you have a valid claim, we are ready to answer any questions you may have and help you prepare to testify at your hearing. An initial consultation is free of charge and comes with no obligation to hire our firm.
Zero Upfront Fees. Ph: (920) 260-4528
Your Testimony Plays an Important Role
The ALJ’s final decision at an SSD hearing will be based on certain factors. This includes the medical evidence in your file, such as X-rays, imaging tests, lab panels, treatment notes and written statements from your doctor. Another factor is the testimony you provide at this hearing.
Your testimony can help the ALJ have a better understanding of your medical condition and how it affects your ability to function on a day-to-day basis and perform basic work activities, which may include past work. The ALJ will want to know if your condition has reduced your quality of life.
Additionally, testifying gives you a chance to clarify things in your medical file or previous statements made that seem inconsistent or vague. This includes explaining away any doubts the ALJ may have about your eligibility for disability.
You also have the chance to clarify inconsistencies that may be evident between your medical records and your statements. This includes any misgivings the judge may have about qualifying for disability.
Preparing to Testify at Your SSD Hearing
We know how overwhelmed and imitated claimants can get when asked to testify at their SSD hearing. For many, the whole experience can be nerve-wracking. This is where having an experienced attorney by your side can be beneficial. He or she can help you feel less anxious by preparing you for what to expect at your hearing. This includes putting together what you want to say to the ALJ.
Aside from your testimony, the ALJ will ask you different questions about your medical issues, treatment provided, previous work history, and anything else related to your condition. A lawyer can also help you practice answering these questions. Being prepared ahead of time could decrease your anxiety.
Review Everything That Has Been Submitted
Giving strong testimony requires knowing yourself and your limitations. Be sure to review everything that has been submitted to the ALJ assigned to your case. Look at your initial application and medical records, including observations and notes made by your treating doctor during your appointments.
If you have kept a journal, review every entry where you wrote about your pain and discomfort. Perhaps you included specific symptoms that have caused restrictions or limitations in your work and home life. You may have documented your medical care and treatments and if you had any adverse side effects.
Taking the time to review everything will not only help ensure that your file is up to date but also allow you to know what the ALJ is already aware of about your disability claim before your hearing is held.
Know Exactly What You Want to Say to the ALJ
Your testimony should provide more information than the ALJ can find in your medical records. Think about what it is you exactly want to say that will contribute to the ALJ’s understanding of your condition.
This is your opportunity to speak about your capabilities, as well as your limitations and struggles. If you face certain difficulties, be sure to give some examples that illustrate each of these difficulties. Being modest about your medical condition is often a mistake claimants make at their SSD hearings.
It is important that anything you say is honest and detailed. Refrain from exaggerating or downplaying your symptoms. Otherwise, the ALJ will likely question your credibility and not grant you benefits.
How to Testify at a Video or Telephone Hearing
In-person disability hearings have resumed in limited locations, but hearings by online video or telephone are still being conducted. These types of hearings allow you to testify from the comfort of your home or in a location near your home. However, they do not replace the personal nature of an in-person disability hearing.
Here are some tips for testifying at a video or telephone hearing:
- Locate a quiet area in your home with as few distractions as possible.
- Do not allow family or friends in the room. Plan on testifying on your own.
- Use a headset instead of your speakerphone to avoid feedback or echo.
- Keep it professional by not eating or drinking during the hearing.
- Wait for your turn to speak to avoid interruptions and keep your answers concise.
- Talk slowly and clearly so the ALJ can hear and understand what you are saying.
Request a Free Consultation to Get Started
A Green Bay Social Security Disability lawyer at our firm is ready to help you with your testimony and represent you at your hearing. We have decades of combined legal experience handling disability claims.
Our initial consultations are 100 percent free and confidential. There are no upfront costs for having us represent you. We only get paid at the end of the entire process if we help you obtain benefits.
Contact Us Today to Get Started. (920) 260-4528