How to Present Yourself Before a Social Security Disability Judge
Millions of people apply for Social Security Disability benefits every year. Unfortunately, an overwhelming 70 percent of applicants are denied at the initial stage of the disability application process. To make matters worse, more than 80 percent of applicants are denied at the reconsideration stage. Fortunately, more than half of the applicants who file for a hearing before an administrative law judge will eventually go on to win their disability case. However, it can take almost two years to actually get your day in court. Because of this, you want to do everything in your power to make sure the scales are tipped in your favor on the day of your hearing. This means knowing how you should present yourself before the Social Security Disability administrative law judge. If you are scheduled for a disability hearing and want to present yourself in the best light possible, make sure you take the following advice into consideration.
Do Not Try to Do Your Worst
When dressing for your Social Security Disability hearing, make sure you dress properly. Some people make the mistake of trying to appear “pitiful” before the judge and show up in shabby clothes and with an unkempt appearance. This is never a good idea. Yes, you are trying to prove to the judge that you have a disability and that you need to be awarded Social Security Disability benefits. Appearing your worst, however, is not going to prove your disability to the court. It will only show a lack of respect.
When dressing for your Social Security Disability hearing, wear clean clothes that are presentable in the courtroom. Torn jeans and ragged t-shirts are not the way to go. You don't have to wear your nicest suit, but you should dress the same way you would in a business setting.
Show Up On Time
Do not show up late to your Social Security Disability hearing, or worse, not show up at all. Chances are that you have waited a long time for this day to arrive. If you are late or do not show up, it will not sit well with the judge. Make sure that you allow plenty of time to get to the court and try to arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to the time your hearing is scheduled for.
Honesty is the Best Policy
When you are speaking with the judge at your hearing, always be honest. Even if you think the truth may hurt your disability claim, do not lie to the judge who is hearing your Social Security Disability case. The judge hears thousands of disability cases each year and he or she has access to all of your medical records. If you are lying, chances are they will know about it and they may deny your claim for disability benefits because of it.
Never Interrupt the Judge
The last thing you want to do is annoy or anger the judge who is reviewing your disability case. When the judge is speaking, do not interrupt. Always listen carefully to the question the judge is asking and wait until the judge has finished speaking before you provide your answer.
On the other hand, if the judge interrupts you and does not give you a chance to explain all of the details you feel need to be heard, do not be afraid to speak up. Never be rude, but make sure you explain that you would like the chance to fully explain the answer to the question.
Technically a judge should not be allowed to deny your claim for Social Security Disability benefits due to a personality conflict, but it may happen. You do not have to be the judge's best friend, but being rude to the judge is not going to help you win your case. Make sure you treat the administrative law judge with the respect that he or she deserves.
Listen to Your Lawyer
Hopefully you will be working with a disability attorney who will be representing you in your Social Security Disability claim. Your attorney should have prepared you for your disability hearing and the type of questions you will be asked in court. Your lawyer is a professional and he or she understands what it will take to win your disability case. Make sure you heed your attorney's advice if you want to receive the Social Security Disability benefits you need.
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