WHAT QUESTIONS WILL THE JUDGE ASK AT MY DISABILITY HEARING?
Are you wondering what questions the disability judge will ask at your SSA hearing? Don’t worry, an SSA hearing is nothing like an impeachment hearing. You are the main witness, but you will not be grilled with questions like they do to witnesses on television. SSA hearings are informal. They are also private, which means the public cannot come in and out of the court room. The only people who will listen to your testimony are the people in the hearing. This is typically the Judge, your attorney, the court reporter, and possibly a vocational or medical expert who is hired by the SSA.
Even though hearings are informal, it is still important to think about the questions you will face, as you are the witness at your Social Security Disability hearing. The Judge is going to be asking you specific questions about your background and your disability. If you do not know where your hearing is going to be, you can find out online at ssa.gov. You will also receive a notice in the mail of the time, date, and location of your hearing.
If you have an attorney, your attorney should also be asking you questions. You may be asking yourself, what kind of questions will they be? How do I know what to say? Will I know the answers? You will know the answers to the questions you are asked because all of the questions are about you and your disability. First, the judge will ask your name, date of birth, address, and possibly your Social Security Number. You will usually be asked if you were in the military and if you are married, single, or divorced. These are questions that are easy for most people. However, once those questions are answered, you will be asked about your disability. There are things you can do to prepare to answer those questions.
HOW DOES YOUR DISABILITY PREVENT YOU FROM WORKING?
The main thing you can do to help yourself is to think about your disability and how it keeps you from working. Specifically, the Judge wants to know how much you can lift, how long you can sit, stand and walk, and if you are able to concentrate on job instructions. All of the questions are asked in the context of an 8-hour workday.
THE JUDGE WILL ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN PHYSICALLY DO DURING AN 8 HOUR DAY?
For example, if you lay down every afternoon for 2 hours because of back pain, you need to tell the judge that you lie down. That amount of lying down eliminates all work. Can you imagine an employer letting you lay down on the job for two hours during an eight-hour shift? Of course not. That is why it is important to use numbers and examples when you talk about disability. If you tell the judge you lay down “a lot,” that doesn’t help your case. No one knows what “a lot” means. So, instead of answering with general statements, be specific.
Likewise, if the judge asks how many pounds you can lift, the answer isn’t “not very much.” The answer is 5, 10, or the number of pounds you could lift repetitively throughout the course of an 8-hour workday without pain. You need to explain all of your physical limitations with a number. If you cannot sit for more than 15 minutes at a time, tell the Judge. If you cannot walk for more than 10 minutes at a time due to back pain or some other problem, tell the Judge. The more specific you are in your answers, the more the Judge will understand your limitations.
THE JUDGE WILL ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR MENTAL IMPAIRMENTS AND HOW THEY IMPACT YOUR ABILITY TO WORK?
Mental impairments, like Depression and Anxiety, result in symptoms that can impact your ability to work an 8 hour day. The Judge will ask you questions about mental symptoms. For example, if you have Anxiety, the Judge may ask if you have panic attacks at work. Your answer should not simply be “yes.” Instead, you should talk about how, in the past, you have had a panic attack at work. You could say something like this: “I have at least one panic attack a week. At work, I would have a panic attack when I had to talk to the supervisor. The panic attack would last 30 minutes and during that time I would have to go to the break room.”
If you answer like this, you have helped the Judge understand that at least once a week, due to panic attacks, you would be away from your work station for at least 30 minutes. You have also helped the Judge understand that you have difficulty dealing with supervisors. These are two important parts of work. Most employees would be fired if they took a 30 minute break, in addition to normal breaks, once every week. Employers want you working, not having a panic attack in the break room. Also, in order to work, you must be able to take instruction from a supervisor. If you cannot do that it impacts your ability to do every available job in the workforce.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY LAW AND BE READY FOR YOUR DISABILITY HEARING
Before the hearing, mentally review your limitations so you can be prepared to explain, using numbers and examples, how you are not able to complete an 8-hour workday due to your disabling impairments. Even though every judge is different, all of the questions revolve around whether or not you can work. Prepare yourself to answer questions about your physical and mental health.
If you need representation at your upcoming hearing, contact us at Cannon Disability Law. We offer a free consultation and it costs no money up front to hire us to help you win your case. Prior to our client’s hearings, we meet with them to discuss the questions they will be asked. Every person is different and has unique issues that they face. Therefore, when we prepare you for your hearing, we focus on your unique disabling impairments. It is our job, as your disability legal team, to show the Judge why your impairments prevent you from working.