In anticipation of your Social Security disability hearing, your Detroit disability lawyer will explain to you some common guidelines for giving strong testimony, including: tell the truth; try not to exaggerate or minimize your symptoms; give specific examples of the impact of your impairment on your daily activities. Here are a few additional guidelines that will help you avoid common pitfalls during your testimony:
1. Don’t argue your case or decide your case for the judge. Your role at the hearing is that of witness. Your job is to describe the facts of your situation – your physical and/or mental condition, and the effects of that condition on your day-to-day life. It is not your job to argue the case or draw legal conclusions from the evidence. Thus, you should try to avoid saying things like, “I worked all my life . . . .” or “There is no way I can do any kind of work with my condition.”
2. Don’t bring up other people or other cases. Though it may be tempting to compare your case to the disability case of a family member or a friend or some other third-party, don’t do it. Other cases are wholly irrelevant to your case. Talking about them simply wastes valuable hearing time. Thus, try to avoid saying things like, “I know this woman who has nothing wrong with her, but she gets disability benefits,” or “I know lots of people who are way less disabled than I am who get disability benefits.”
3. Don’t try to win the judge’s sympathy. Social Security disability judges have seen and heard it all. Manufactured tears and other histrionics won’t work. Moreover, the judge’s job is to apply the facts of your case to the law, and the law is only concerned with your ability to work. Everything else – your dire financial situation; the fact that your car was repossessed or that you were evicted – is irrelevant to the disability determination.
If you are not currently represented by a Detroit disability attorney, please contact me if you would like to talk about your upcoming hearing or another aspect of your disability case.