The Lynchburg disability lawyers advise: Follow these two rules to be your own best witness at your disability hearing

Social Security disability attorneys tend to have lots of advice when it comes to testifying at your hearing before the administrative law judge. At our Lynchburg disability lawyers have boiled it down to 2 simple rules:

Rule #1: Be honest.

As simple as this sounds, many of our clients find it surprisingly difficult. Some claimants exaggerate their symptoms; others minimize their symptoms so as not appear to be a “whiner” or a “complainer.” The hearing is the judge’s first opportunity to assess your credibility and determine whether you are trustworthy. Always tell the judge the truth. If you lose your credibility, you will lose your case and be denied benefits.

Rule #2: Be specific.

Vague generalizations are not persuasive. Detailed testimony, supported by personal examples and anecdotes, is persuasive testimony. This rule is particularly important with regard to two topics the judge will ask you about: (a) your symptoms; and (b) your daily activities.

What types of symptoms are you experiencing?

This question presents a golden opportunity to persuade the Social Security decision-maker that you are, in fact, disabled by your impairment. To make the most of this opportunity, describe your symptoms as precisely, and with as much detail, as possible. For example, if you suffer from pain, you must tell the judge more than, “My back hurts all the time.” Instead, paint a detailed picture of:

  • The intensity of your pain, on a scale of 1-10;
  • The frequency and duration of the pain;
  • The precise location of the pain, and where and when it radiates to other parts of your body;
  • Pain triggers;
  • Steps you take to alleviate the pain, including medications; and
  • Side-effects of those medications.

What is a typical day like for you?

Rest assured that, at some point during the hearing, the judge will ask you a variation of this question. Here is the wrong way to answer that question: “Well, I get up kind of late, and I try to clean the house or run my errands, but it’s hard, so I usually end up lying on the couch and watching T.V. for most of the day.” That type of general statement will do nothing to persuade the judge you are disabled. Instead, give the judge specific examples of how your daily life has been adversely affected as a result of your impairment. For example:

  • What time do you wake up in the morning? Do you wake up later now because your pain keeps you awake at night?
  • Do you need help showering? getting dressed? combing your hair?
  • Are you able to exercise like you used to?
  • What household chores or errands are you no longer able to accomplish on your own? Why?
  • Before you became disabled, did you ever nap or watch T.V. during the day?
  • What time do you go to bed? How well do you sleep?

Contact us

Our Lynchburg disability lawyers have more than 20 years of experience helping Social Security disability claimants prepare for their administrative hearing. We know how important this day is to you, and we will work hard to help ensure that you give your best testimony. If you would like to meet with us for a free consultation, please submit the form on this page, or call or email us directly.

We wish you success.