Focus your testimony on pertinent facts

Posted on April 13, 2012 by cjblog

As a Florida Social Security disability claimant, you will most likely have to testify at a hearing before an administrative law judge.  If I am your Ocala disability attorney, I will spend plenty of time with you before your hearing preparing you to testify.  However, here I want to caution you to avoid making these two common mistakes in your hearing testimony.

Don’t attempt to explain the medical issues in your case.

Some claimants want to tell the ALJ all about their diagnosis and other medical issues. Testimony like this from you usually does not help your case.  Your Ocala disability lawyer will provide the ALJ with your the medical records, doctors’ reports, and other medical evidence. Therefore, do not repeat to the ALJ medical explanations of your condition given to you by your doctor, unless the ALJ asks: “Tell me what your doctor told you about your condition.”

If you are asked why you can’t work, you might be tempted to answer with your diagnosis, such as “I have a herniated disc.” But many people with herniated discs still work. It is the severity of your pain and other symptoms that keep you from working.  You know better than anyone else how your symptoms limit what you can do. Therefore, if the ALJ asks this question, take advantage of the opportunity to describe how your impairment limits your ability to perform specific activities, such as standing, sitting, lifting and moving around.

Don’t argue your case to the ALJ.

Some claimants try to argue their case to the ALJ and get stuck talking about things that just don’t matter. (E.g., “There are no jobs available around here like my old job.”) But arguing is a mistake. Whether you are “disabled” under the Social Security regulations is a hypothetical determination.  By that I mean that the question that the ALJ needs to answer is “If, hypothetically, an employer were to offer you a job, do you have the ability to do it?”

Facts such as whether any employer in your area has offered or would ever offer you a job are irrelevant to the determination of whether you are disabled.  Your testimony should focus instead on the facts that do matter. The reasons that you cannot do a sit-down job for eight hours a day are the sort of facts that you should mention.

In order to be well-prepared for a hearing, you will need the help of a qualified Ocala disability attorney. Fill out the claim evaluation form on this page to arrange for a free consultation with experienced Ocala Social Security lawyer CJ Henry.

This entry was posted in Appeal, Benefits, Claims, Disability Claims by cjblog.