Social Security Disability hearings are less formal than other court hearings. The biggest reason is they are non-adversarial. In most all court hearings, both parties are represented by an attorney. In a Social Security Disability hearing there is no lawyer who represents Social Security. Therefore, there is no one in the hearing room who has the job of tricking the claimant or trying to discredit them. Although some may disagree, this is the not the judge’s job, either. The administrative law judge has an obligation to give the claimant a fair opportunity to tell his or her side of the story.
The claimant gives his or her testimony under oath, by answering questions asked by the judge and his or her disability attorney, if the party is represented by a Tulsa Social Security Attorney.
Tip for answering questions:
When answering questions posed by your attorney or the judge, keep answers to questions direct and short. If you limit your answers to the question being asked, it makes the hearing far less confusing for the judge and easier for you. Additional information not asked may throw off the flow of questioning and create confusion.
Make sure that you listen to questions carefully, and be sure that you understand each question before you answer it. If you do not understand a question, then feel free to say so and ask for clarification/repeat of the question. If you are unsure about your answer, or if you simply do not know the answer to a question posed, you should state so. The hearing is not an attempt to discredit you or trick you into saying something.
There are several given areas which will be asked about. These include questions regarding your physical and/or mental abilities, medical history, employment, and day-to-day activities. You should always answer the questions on each of these matters as completely as possible.
The administrative law judge will assess your credibility at the time of the hearing. While there is no exact list of the factors, the judge will possibly look at the following:
- Your work history. Was your work history consistent up to the point of your disability?
- Your symptoms at the hearing. Are they consistent with the medical records? If you have never been prescribed an assistive device or the use of one is not mentioned anywhere in your records, it would likely come across as an exaggeration if you use one at the hearing.
- Unsuccessful work attempts. Did you attempt to work and fail?