These Statements May Hurt Your Disability Case

judge pounding in the courtroom

A claimant’s chance of success at a disability hearing will increase if they avoid making statements that could hurt the case. A Social Security disability hearing gives individuals an opportunity to show an administrative law judge (ALJ) how their disability affects their daily life. During most disability hearings, the presiding ALJ will ask the claimant questions about the things are able to do. A claimant must be honest when answering questions but should be careful not to offer additional information that could hurt the case.

Statements to Avoid at a Disability Hearing

Unless specifically asked, here are some of the statements that should not be made at a disability hearing:

  • The claimant has a criminal history.
  • The claimant has family members who receive unemployment or disability benefits.
  • There are currently no job openings the claimant can do.
  • The claimant has problems with drugs or alcohol.
  • The claimant has failed to take the medication prescribed or follow the instructions given by a doctor.
  • The claimant is not able to get to his or her place of employment because he or she doesn’t have a driver’s license or a vehicle.

Also, the claimant should not say that he or she doesn’t want particular types of work, can only do part-time or seasonal jobs, or the proposed work is not enough to live on. The information provided must corroborate medical evidence.

Overstating or Understating Symptoms

Disability claimants can be tempted to exaggerate or downplay medical problems at a hearing. When a claimant minimizes his or her symptoms, the ALJ could think that the claimant is capable of working and the condition isn’t severe enough to warrant benefits. Exaggerating might raise red flags, causing the claimant to lose credibility with the judge and lose an otherwise valid claim. 

Giving Vague Answers

The ALJ will ask questions to evaluate the extent to which a claimant’s disability affects his or her daily life.  If asked a direct question by the ALJ, a claimant must provide direct answers. He or she should avoid giving vague answers and instead try to describe symptoms in detail with descriptive words. He or she should also be specific about functional limitations.

Rambling or Going off Topic

Rambling when answering questions will cause frustration and can lead to the denial of benefits. Knowing what to say and practicing prior to the hearing can help a claimant stay on the topic at hand. 

Social Security Disability

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