Disability Hearings: Conducting Yourself Well

After the work it takes to complete an application for disability benefits (SSDI), you might feel quite relieved to get a date for the disability hearing. During this hearing, you'll be questioned about your health by a judge. Because the outcome of this hearing can make a major impact on your life, you may be nervous. However, with these suggestions, you'll be able to conduct yourself honorably and put yourself in a better position.

Retain an Attorney

Even if you completed the disability benefits application on your own, it's wise for you to seek out a long term disability attorney, like those at Iler and Iler, before the hearing. An attorney who understands the nuances associated with long term disability cases can provide pointers about how to answer questions and how to best avoid a denial. They may be able to offer insight on the judge you're seeing, too.

Arrive Early

You may aim to get to the hearing when it's scheduled to begin, but it's hard to overstate the importance of being able to collect yourself before the questioning begins. When you arrive early, you can get used to the room, ask questions, and start reviewing the points you'd like to make. You can quickly discuss last minute issues with your attorney and put yourself in a positive mindset before the hearing starts. If you're just arriving in the nick of time or assumed you'd be on time but are late, you'll already be in a tense mood.

Be Specific

One reason hearings are held is to better understand the chronic issues that people are dealing with. In order for a judge to agree with you that you deserve disability benefits, you must convince them of your claims. Therefore, you must be able to describe in detail what about your life has changed or been made worse by the disability you now have. Specificity is key; if you can remember specific examples of times when your disability made work unbearable, for instance, now is the time to reveal them. If you have a lawyer, they will help you come up with examples before the hearing.

Be Honest

Of course, you might plan to tell the truth when you're sitting in front of a judge who can make decisions about your life. However, some people overly share and exaggerate their health problems because they're afraid they'll get denied. This is risky and ill-advised. Not only can judges usually tell when someone isn't being straight with them, your medical records should align with the claims you're now making. Don't embellish, and keep things honest.

Using these pointers and being calm throughout the entire hearing should help you get through the event positively. Trust your disability lawyer to offer additional guidance before and during the hearing.