Factors to Consider When Testifying At Your Hearing

  • Don’t be melodramatic. Social Security ALJs are judges who only hear disability cases and are well versed in medical impairments.  An ALJ will not be impressed by overdramatic sobbing or other emotional outbursts. ALJs do not look favorably on people who they perceive as “putting on an act.”
  • Don’t lie.The ALJ will ask questions, and one must answer truthfully. Do not lie, leave out important information, bend the truth, or try to use evasive language. Answer truthfully, and try to stick to the question and not go off on unrelated topics. While you should not be melodramatic and exaggerate your issues, do not be ashamed to admit all of the difficulties of an impairment. The ALJ should hear about all of your limitations, even if they are difficult to talk about. The ALJ will not be able to make an informed decision about your impairments unless you are honest.
  • Don’t be angry. If you are at the ALJ hearing level of appeal, that means your claim has been denied and one may be rightfully angry and frustrated. Do not curse, yell, or threaten anyone. ALJs are people and want to be treated nicely.
  • Don’t be disrespectful.The ALJ hearing is very important, and you should treat it as being very important. Do not answer your cell phone (in fact, make sure it is turned off completely), read a book or magazine, chew gum, eat food, or do anything else that may be taken as disrespectful and distracting.

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