What to Say at Social Security Hearings

What should you say at a Social Security hearing? When you’re appealing a denial or insufficient benefits, you naturally would want to do everything to get what you believe is truly due to you. Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind when speaking with an Administrative Law Judge:

  • Honest and direct statements

Exaggerating your symptoms can make you lose credibility, while oversimplifying can result in insufficient benefits. For specific questions, answer truthfully, without volunteering any other information. For instance, the ALJ might ask if your spouse is receiving disability benefits. Answer with a succinct yes or no–you don’t have to mention other relatives that might be in the same program.

  • Detailed descriptions

Vague descriptions can hurt your chances of persuading the ALJ. If you’re describing pain, do it in detail, such as its severity on a scale of 1-10, duration, and frequency. If you want to describe your functional limitations, give concrete examples or even anecdotes to illustrate.

  • Specifics of past work or skills

Describe the requirements of your past work clearly, as well as any skills you’ve acquired over the years. This can help in determining how the disability affected your capacity to perform your job, and your suitability for other jobs.

It will also pay to get the help of an experienced Social Security attorney. The lawyer can help prepare you for such a hearing, and ensure your rights are protected at all times.


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