Will I be asked to testify at my Social Security Disability hearing?
A: Typically, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will decide cases based on the medical evidence in the file – this includes x-rays and other imaging exams, lab panels, treatment notes, and written statements from the claimant and the claimant’s treating physicians. In some cases however, the ALJ presiding over the case may also ask for the claimant’s testimony in an effort to better understand their medical condition and how it affects their ability to function and perform basic work activities (including your past work).
A disability hearing can be an anxiety-provoking event. For this reason, it is especially important to have an experienced representative by your side. Your representative can help you prepare for your hearing and can serve to answer many of the important questions that may arise at your hearing.
If you are asked to testify before an ALJ, your responses to his/her questions should be honest and detailed, but not to the point of exaggeration. This is a time when you should avoid being modest about how your impairment(s) impact your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. For example, if your condition, or the pain resulting from your condition, limits your range of motion in a particular limb or joint, renders muscle weakness, or interferes with your ability to sit, stand, stoop, crouch, reach, grasp, or sleep for a long period of time, you should definitely make these limitations part of your testimony. Being modest about your medical condition is a mistake many claimants make at their hearing.