How should I answer the judge’s questions at a Social Security Disability hearing?
Get tips on how to answer the judge’s questions at your Social Security Disability hearing and learn the most important hearing tip of all.
How to Answer Hearing Questions
If you have an attorney who is representing you at your Social Security Disability hearing, your attorney will present your case. Even so, the Administrative Law Judge will ask questions that he or she will want you to answer yourself.
Here are some “do’s:” The best way to answer questions at a hearing is to answer honestly and completely. At the same time, it’s important to limit your answer to the specific question that has been asked without adding information about related or unrelated topics. Third, listen carefully to the question and if you don’t understand it, ask to have it explained by saying, “I am not sure I understand what you are asking.” Similarly, if you have a lapse in attention, do ask to have the question, or anything else you missed, repeated.
And now, here are some “don’ts:” Be careful not to exaggerate your problems and avoid using generalities like “all the time”, “always,” and “never” unless they are really true. It helps to think about whether your symptoms are really most of the time or two to three times a day, rather than always. Similarly, avoid saying that your health or functioning has not improved at all when it has improved. You can always qualify your statement by saying the improvement is not enough to work or work regularly. Another pitfall at a hearing occurs when, without thinking, you turn your desire to work into a statement, such as “I think I could work if could find the right job,” which may give an incorrect impression of your ability to consistently perform work day in and day out.
Our Best Tip for Your Social Security Disability Hearing
These are all good tips, but the best tip is to have a Social Security lawyer represent you at your Social Security Disability hearing. Your attorney will prepare you for the hearing, including coaching you in best practices for answering questions, alerting you to questions that are likely to be asked so that you can think about them in advance, and advising you of court protocol. For more information about disability hearings, review our other hearing articles, including What is a Social Security Disability Hearing and What Can I Expect When I Request a Disability Hearing? Learn how you can afford an attorney to help you by checking out our article How Do Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid for Representing You in Your Disability Claim?