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CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC

Importance of Testimony Given by Lay Witnesses

  • Published: March 6, 2014

According to the Social Security Administration, the evidence presented by lay witnesses is considered important. There are, however, several administrative law judges, or ALJs, who do not give witness testimony much consideration. In fact, some ALJs appear to ignore the testimony and evidence presented by lay witnesses, and neglect to mention either live or written testimony, no matter how important, in their final decisions. There are instances in which federal courts have sent such cases back to court. If there has been an Ocala Social Security disability case where the ALJ did not give proper weight to testimony given by a lay witness, a lawyer with a background in Social Security disability cases may be able to appeal the ALJ’s decision.

Lay Witness Selection and Testimony Preparation

An Ocala Social Security disability lawyer may be able to assist in the selection of lay witnesses for a disability case. In addition, a lawyer can help to prepare witnesses with practice questions, instructions about the type of testimony the ALJ will be looking for and information regarding the hearing.

There are some basic rules of thumb for providing lay testimony:

  • Do not minimize;
  • Avoid exaggeration;
  • Give a truthful response to questions;
  • Describe only what has been observed directly; and
  • Do not argue the case as that is the responsibility of the lawyer

The plaintiff’s lawyer will ask the lay witness questions regarding the plaintiff’s disability. In addition, the attorney might establish the witness’s credibility by asking questions such as how often the witness sees the plaintiff, how long they have known each other and the nature of their relationship. In some cases, the ALJ may also ask the lay witness questions to help establish the facts.

Written Testimony in an Ocala Social Security Disability Case

In the event that the lay witness cannot provide live testimony, a lawyer might choose to submit a written statement provided by the witness. As with live testimony, the written statement should include information such as the nature of the witness’s relationship to the plaintiff, how long they have known each other and observations regarding the plaintiff’s disability.

An Ocala Social Security disability lawyer may be able to assist with the preparation of an Ocala Social Security disability case including lay witness selection and preparation. CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC has experience with Social Security disability cases and can be reached at 352.304.5300.

Claudeth Henry

Attorney Henry is a Florida disability lawyer uniquely suited to
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