A hearing is the best opportunity to make your case for disability benefits because you get to tell your story in person to a judge. But you need to do it right. Don’t torpedo your own case by saying the wrong things. Here are a few tips on what not to do and what not to say at your hearing.

Don’t ramble on.  Most Social Security disability hearings are short, and to the point.  Judges are human. If you give long winded answers, they may just tune you out. It may be helpful to recruit a friend or family member and practice giving short, to-the-point answers.

Don’t tell the judge what an honest person you are. Prove you are honest with truthful testimony that is relevant to your case.

Never try to play on the judge’s sympathy.  These judges have heard it all, seen it all, and trying to play on their sympathy will likely just backfire. If, for example, your disability has meant your car has been repossessed, that is unfortunate, but it is not relevant to whether or not you qualify for disability benefits.

Never draw conclusions for the judge.

Don’t go on about irrelevant facts, details or stories. The judge will not consider these so they are just an annoying waste of the judge’s time.  Don’t talk about how it’s a tough economy or how you can’t find work. Don’t offer your opinions about business hiring practices, or economic conditions, or how your industry has changed.  These…and similar details … are simply not relevant.

Finally, don’t be embarrassed. During a hearing your personal medical history will completely open for examination and some of the details may seem embarrassing.  But remember that a Social Security judge hears hundreds of cases every year, and is only focused on whether or not you qualify for disability insurance benefits. Try to set aside any embarrassment you may feel because this will allow you to testify more openly about your conditions.

The Social Security disability process is complex, but because we focus exclusively on disability law, we can support and guide you through it all. At Cuddigan Law you have a dedicated team of professionals in your corner who understand the system and who will fight for your rights. Call us for a free evaluation of your situation.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska