The road to obtaining social security disability insurance benefits is long and difficult to travel. Hiring a compassionate and experienced attorney can make the many obstacles more manageable. After completing an initial disability claim, obtaining medical records, and submitting all of it without missing a deadline, the next hurdle will be appearing before an administrative law judge who will make a determination. During the hearing, the claimant will be asked many personal questions. How those questions are answered could make a difference in obtaining a favorable outcome. So, what should you not say in a disability interview? Let’s examine a few things you may need to consider.
How do you answer questions in a disability hearing?
A disability hearing before an administrative law judge is a legal proceeding. It may be intimidating, and claimants may be scared. This is a normal feeling. Preparing for the hearing with a qualified disability attorney can help people be more comfortable. There are a few things that claimants and other people testifying at a disability should do their best to remember:
- Always answer the judge’s questions honestly.
- Answer the question asked, don’t veer off-topic.
- Be ready to explain any discrepancies.
- Use specific language when discussing symptoms, treatments, and limitations.
- Don’t take the judge’s questions personally.
It is also essential to understand that the judge will have a lot of information about the claimant. The judge likely already knows the answer to the question they are asking. It is vital that the claimant’s answers match what is in the files and that all of the information is true.
Things to Avoid Saying During a Disability Hearing
Preparing for a disability hearing can be as emotionally or physically taxing on a claimant as the real thing. However, disability attorneys who put their clients through a mock hearing can help people overcome fears that can lead to problematic answers. There are many reasons people give bad answers to an administrative law judge’s questions, including the intimidating nature of the hearing and embarrassment. Take a look at the following sentences and some of the better alternatives.
Nobody will hire me.
Living with disabilities and working full-time can lead to a challenging work history. Instead, telling the judge the claimant can’t get hired, they should focus on the struggles that come with trying to work with the condition they’ve been diagnosed with.
I can work; why am I here?
Disability clients should be very clear with their attorney about their limitations. However, when the hearing arrives, people’s pride can get in the way, leading to this problematic answer. Often this is the intimidation and fear of the hearing talking. Claimants need to consider whether they can perform a job’s duties for 40 hours per week, for 52 weeks per year. Putting this idea in simple terms can be helpful during the interview.
I’ve never used drugs or alcohol.
It might seem unrelated to a person’s claim, but a judge is likely to ask about drug or alcohol use. This is one of those areas where working with an attorney to answer the question can be helpful. If a claimant has a documented history of substance use and denies it during the interview, it will almost certainly lead to denial of the claim.
I stopped my treatment because I didn’t think it would work.
Continuing to get medically advised treatment is critical to the potential success of a disability claim. Telling the judge that treatment was abandoned against medical advice could lead them to think getting that help could put the claimant in a position to go back to work. Or, the judge could determine the condition must not be severe enough to approve SSDI benefits. Always follow professional medical and legal advice during the disability process.
The SSDI process is complex and full of pitfalls that can force people needing help to start over from the beginning because of minor errors. An experienced disability attorney will give people the best possible chance of successfully filing a claim. Reach out to one of our disability attorneys today.