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Testifying at your disability hearing


Testifying at your Minneapolis Social Security disability hearing

Your Minneapolis Social Security disability hearing is your opportunity to tell the administrative law judge everything you want the judge to know about how your impairment prevents you from holding a job. This is the only time during the Social Security process that you will have the opportunity to meet the person who will be deciding your case. You are the most important witness and your testimony is a key factor in whether or not your claim for benefits is successful.

As seasoned Minneapolis and St Paul disability attorneys, we offer you a few general tips here about good testimony.  If we represent you, we will meet with you well before your hearing to review the specific questions you are likely to be asked at your hearing and to give you further advice on testifying for your particular situation.

Provide facts and details about symptoms, but skip the diagnosis

At the hearing, it is important that you present sufficient facts, details, and explanations in your testimony so that the judge can easily make the determination that you are disabled. Being yourself and using your own words is the best way to give the vivid descriptions and in depth examples that make for effective testimony.

If the judge asks why you are unable to work, don’t respond with a diagnosis.  For example, maybe you can’t work because of crippling arthritis. But many people who suffer from arthritis are still able to work. The reason you cannot work is that your arthritis symptoms are severe, something you know more about than anyone. Therefore, if you are asked why you are unable to work, you should use this opportunity to give the judge a full picture of your symptoms and limitations, using descriptive words such as “burning,” “aching,” “throbbing,” “raw” or “tender.”

Prepare for these possible questions

Your testimony should focus on how your pain and other symptoms prevent you from working. The judge may explore your physical and mental limitations by asking some or all of the following questions:

  • How long can you sit?
  • How far you can walk?
  • How much you can lift?
  • Do you have to alternate between sitting and standing frequently?
  • Are able to get through an eight-hour day without lying down?
  • Do you have problems reaching and grasping objects?
  • Do you have to use the rest room frequently?
  • Do you have good days followed by bad days during which you would need to miss work?
  • Are you consistently unable to concentrate or remember instructions?

Describing your day

If the judge asks about how you spend a typical day, explain what you do hour by hour. The more detailed and specific your testimony, the easier it will be for the judge to appreciate your testimony and recognize your symptoms and limitations. For instance, you can describe to the judge how long you are able to be active and how long you must rest afterwards. Details about your rest are also significant, such as where you rest—on the couch, bed, or recliner chair, and whether you sit or lie down.

It is essential to tell the judge the things you do differently or are unable to do at all because of your impairment. This can be done by telling the judge how long it takes you to complete a project now compared to how long it took you before you suffered your impairment. You should also describe activities in which you require help from other people and who those people are.

Avoid both overstatement and understatement

Avoid any temptation to exaggerate your testimony regarding pain and other symptoms. On the other hand, do not minimize your pain and symptoms to the the judge. Your testimony is under oath and the most important part of any Social Security disability hearing is to testify truthfully. If your pain description is inconsistent with what is reflected in your medical records, you will need to explain your reason for the inconsistency.

Get help from a Minneapolis-St. Paul disability lawyer

One of the most important functions of a Minneapolis and St Paul disability attorney is to prepare clients to testify at their disability hearings. If you would like to speak with an experienced Minneapolis disability lawyer to determine the best way to present your unique situation to the judge, please contact our dedicated Minneapolis disability attorneys.  Your initial consultation is free.

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We handle SSI and Social Security disability cases in these Minnesota counties and communities: Counties: Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Anoka County, Carver County, Scott County, Dakota unty. Communities: Minneapolis, St Paul, Bloomington, Eagan, St Louis Park, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove,Brooklyn Park, Roseville, Woodbury, Hastings, Duluth, Alexandria, Brainerd, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato.