2 Quick Tips That Will Help You Testify Well At Your Disability Hearing

Parmele Law FirmSocial Security

If your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) has been denied, probably the best thing you can do is to hire experienced disability counsel and appeal the denial and go to hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

When you do get to hearing, you will have to testify before the judge. You will be asked a lot of questions about your medical conditions, and your past work, your family life, your everyday activities, and what you can and cannot do. Even though administrative disability hearings are not held in a formal courtroom, testifying can nevertheless make you nervous.

So let’s get you prepared to give your best testimony with these 2 quick tips.

  1. Answer Only The Question You Are Asked.

One of the best things you can do when you are testifying at your disability hearing is to pay close attention to the question the ALJ is asking you and then answer only that question.

Many times clients are nervous when testifying (that’s only normal) and as a result they tend to talk too much. Or they may want to tell the ALJ their “life story” so badly, that they tell the ALJ everything—regardless of the question the ALJ has asked.

It’s not easy to trust the process, but you need to trust that your story will come out—and more clearly—if you take it just one question at a time.

Just like politicians who never answer the question asked, if you do not answer the question the ALJ asks you, it won’t be helpful to your case.

  1. Be Specific In Your Answers.

Another important tip for testifying well at your disability hearing is to be specific in your answers. You can expect the ALJ to ask you questions about your limitations—what you can and cannot do despite your condition(s). When you answer these questions, try to be specific.

So, for example, if you cannot stand for very long, don’t just say “I can’t stand for long.” Tell the ALJ specifically how long you can stand (10 minutes?) and then, what?— if you have to sit down and rest before you can stand again, tell the ALJ that.

Or, if you are asked what you do all day, don’t just say “nothing.” No one actually does “nothing” all day.  At some point you get up, get dressed and eat something. So tell the judge what you actually do—if it takes you 30 minutes to button your shirt or you can only make yourself cereal for breakfast, let the ALJ know that. The point is that you need to be specific about your limitations, your pain and what everyday activities you can perform.

Above all, be honest. That will always be the best testimony you can give.


Compassionate Disability Attorneys.

If you have been denied disability benefits, we can help. Helping people in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois get the disability benefits they deserve is what we do. And it is the only thing we do. We practice only social security disability law. We have offices throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. We also have offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at 855-727-8625 or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.