Will I Need to Testify at My Social Security Disability Hearing?

November 4, 2023

If your application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied twice (like the majority of cases), you have the right to appeal the denial and be granted a hearing in front of a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ).

Statistics clearly show that the appeal hearing is your best chance to be awarded benefits.

And yes, you will be required to testify before the administrative law judge (ALJ) to answer questions about the symptoms of your disabilities and how those symptoms prevent you from being able to maintain gainful employment.

“Many clients think the lawyer will do all of the talking at the hearing and they shouldn’t say too much,” Nash Disability attorney Kevin Lichtenthal points out. “We will argue your case and present the evidence, and we will prepare you in advance. However, the hearing is usually the first and only time you have the opportunity to explain your situation live to someone who will decide your case.”

During your hearing, the administrative law judge will ask you questions about what you are physically capable of doing. He or she will ask questions like: “How long can you stand and walk?” “How do you spend your typical day?” “Can you do the dishes?”

The ALJ is attempting to determine your “residual functional capacity” (RFC); that is, what you can still do despite your impairments. The ALJ is trying to get a handle on what you can do during a work day and a work week.

When testifying at your hearing, do not assume the judge knows how you feel. You want to put the judge in your shoes by being descriptive and specific. Kevin adds, “Many of our clients believe that they should simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This is not the case and could result in a denial.”

“Being thoroughly prepared for your hearing is critically important, and this is where a disability attorney can really help you,” Kevin says. “At Nash Disability Law, from the moment we start representing you, we work hard to get the right evidence in front of the right person at SSA at the right time. We believe in carefully preparing our clients well in advance of the hearing, rather than showing up on the day of the hearing and hoping for the best. With our preparation, clients will be much less likely to be tripped up on pitfalls, traps, or “gotchas.”

For more on the importance of meeting your lawyer and preparing prior to the hearing, see our blog post “A Dirty Social Security Disability Secret.”

“Winning disability benefits takes a team effort,” Kevin emphasized. “To have the best chance of success, clients need to play an active role in their cases.”

For more on how to be involved and increase your chances of being awarded disability benefits, read our blog post “What is My Role in My Disability Case?”

At Nash Disability Law, we have a knowledgeable team of Chicago disability lawyers who will be working on your case, but that team becomes even stronger if you are engaged and involved.

Our disability lawyers are your Chicagoland go-to experts on Social Security Disability law.

Contact us for a free evaluation of your disability case and to learn more strategies to help you win the disability benefits you have rightfully earned.