In my experience as a Detroit disability attorney, most people are nervous about testifying before an administrative law judge at a disability benefits hearing. A little knowledge, however, can go a long way toward reducing this anxiety. I advise my Detroit disability clients to follow these simple rules:
1. Tell the truth.
The first rule is the simplest. Tell the truth. Do not exaggerate or minimize your pain or other symptoms. Be honest about how you feel and what you are capable of doing.
2. Know your abilities and limitations.
Michigan Social Security disability is a function-oriented program. The judge wants to know what you can do, in spite of your disability. Be prepared to answer questions about your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, pull and manipulate small objects.
3. Provide detailed examples.
Paint a picture for the judge by using specific examples of how your life and your ability to work are impacted by your disability. For example, do not say, “My back hurts all the time.” Instead, tell the judge about your daily routine, hour by hour. How has your daily life changed since you became disabled?
4. Speak up.
The hearing is your best chance to convince the Social Security decision-maker to award you benefits. Do not be shy about telling your story. You have to give the judge enough information to demonstrate that, in fact, you are disabled.
5. Plan ahead.
Good preparation makes for good testimony. Well in advance of your hearing, make a list of the jobs you’ve held in the past 15 years; the doctors you’ve seen; the medications you are taking; and your daily activities. If you are represented by a Detroit disability attorney, meet with him or her to talk about the hearing process.
I wish you success.