October 13, 2010

Testifying At Your Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often finds his Indiana Social Security Appeals clients are very nervous about giving testimony at Social Security disability hearings.  The fact is many of his disability clients find the hearing to be much more informal than they had originally thought.  The hearing rooms in the Indianapolis Social Security disability office are not a grand courtroom as many disability clients are expecting.  Instead, hearing rooms are typically small, carpeted, wallpapered rooms with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) usually sitting at an elevated desk.  So, now that you have an idea what the hearing room looks like where an Indiana disability client will give testimony, what type of questions will you be asked?

Almost all Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) follow a different routine when questioning Social Security disability appeals claimants.  With that being said, Indiana Social Security disability clients should realize the underlying question is “how does your disability keep you from working?”  Indianapolis Social Security disability Attorney Scott Lewis usually finds that most Administrative Law Judges will ask a series of questions and then let the Attorney or representative follow up with their own line of questioning.  The questions usually fall into four main groups:

  1. General background questions.  These can include how old you are, your height and weight, your marital status, who you live with, whether you are right or left handed, and many other similar questions.
  2. Past jobs you have performed.  Here the Social Security Administration (SSA) is usually concerned with how much you lifted, how much standing and sitting you did, and what your duties where at your previous job(s).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tells his clients to be prepared to discuss jobs over the last fifteen (15) years that lasted more than three (3) months.
  3. Discussion of your medical problems either physical or mental that prevent you from working.  It is important for Indiana Social Security disability claimants to be as informative as possible regarding the condition(s) they are suffering from.
  4. What activities are you unable to do because of your disabling condition?  This can range from not being able to clean your house to not being able to participate in family gatherings.  If you are unable to bathe or shower yourself or take care of your children you should also make sure your testimony includes those limitations.  Any other activities of daily living you are unable to do, that you previously could do before your disabling condition, should be stated.

A few tips on your testimony:

  1. Be honest.  Indianapolis Social Security disability Lawyer Scott Lewis tries to let his clients know honesty very important.  At times, when an Administrative Law Judge believes you are being untruthful about one particular thing, he/she may not believe another word that comes out of your mouth.  Make sure you tell the truth because many times your medical file has much more information about you than you know.
  2. Describe in detail your condition(s).  For instance if the Judge asks you if your back hurts, do not simply say “yes”.  Instead let the Social Security Administrative Law Judge know where it hurts, how bad it hurts by describing the pain, and how often it hurts. If medications do not alleviate your pain let the Judge know.
  3. Be respectful of the court.  Indiana Social Security Disability Judges are people too.   Many of them act according to how they are treated.  Addressing the Administrative Law Judge as “Your Honor”, “Sir”, or “Ma’am” may be in your best interest.

The above is intended as information only and is not intended as legal advice.  These are the experiences of Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis and other lawyers may experience different scenarios with the Indianapolis Social Security Disability Office.

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