Be your own best advocate at your Washington Social Security disability benefits hearing
If you are like most of our Seattle Social Security disability clients, you are nervous about testifying at your hearing before the administrative law judge. The guidelines below may help you relax and give your best testimony.
1. Be honest.
Tell the truth, without exaggerating or minimizing your condition. As you are testifying, the judge will be evaluating your credibility, trying to determine if you are trustworthy and your claims are believable. If you lose your credibility, you will lose your case. Be scrupulously honest in your testimony.
2. Describe your symptoms in detail.
Regardless of your diagnosed impairment, it is your symptoms (pain, nausea, fatigue) that prevent you from working. Describe your symptoms precisely. Do not say, simply, “Most of the time, I can hardly catch my breath.” Instead, provide the judge with details: “Most of the time, I can hardly catch my breath. I sleep downstairs in a recliner chair, with my head elevated, because I cannot climb the stairs to my bedroom. I used to take daily walks to the market, just a few blocks from my house, but lately I have to stop and rest along the way, and several times I have had to call my daughter to drive me home because I was too drained to walk back. Now, I rarely leave the house. I used to babysit my grandchildren every day after school, but I can no longer keep up with them. Lately, hardly a day goes by that I don’t use my portable oxygen tank.”
3. Be specific when describing your daily activities.
At some point during the hearing, the judge will ask you to describe your daily activities. Tell the judge about each hour of your day and, perhaps more importantly, about how your daily routine has changed because of your disability. What are you no longer able to do without assistance (e.g., attend to personal hygiene; get dressed; clean the house; do the laundry; move about the house)? What activities or hobbies have you been forced to give up entirely (e.g., cooking, gardening, jogging, driving, shopping)?
Talk with an experienced Seattle disability lawyer
Good preparation makes for good testimony. An experienced Seattle disability lawyer can meet with you to review the hearing process, discuss the types of questions you might be asked, and make sure you are comfortable talking about your symptoms and limitations. If you would like to meet with one of our knowledgeable Seattle disability lawyers, please complete the Free Claim Evaluation form on this page, or call or email us.
Douglas Drachler McKee & Gilbrough, LLP
Seattle Social Security disability lawyers
1904 Third Ave
Seattle, WA 98101