You may feel scared or intimidated as the date of your Social Security disability hearing approaches. Would it be ok if you brought a friend or relative into the hearing room to give you moral support. In this video I explain hearing office policy regarding witnesses and observers.
In this video, I talk about vocational witness testimony in a Social Security disability case. Vocational witnesses appear and testify at many Social Security disability hearings. At first, this may seem odd, as you have most likely never met this person and now he or she will be giving testimony about your hearing.
SSDI judges use vocational witnesses because the main issue they are deciding has to do with your capacity to work. Basically, during the hearing, the judge will be trying to identify specific limitations that arise from your medical or mental health condition. More specifically, the judge will be concerning himself with limitations that will impact your capacity to work.
For example, suppose that you hurt your back and you testify that you experience severe pain 3 to 4 hours per day and that the pain is so severe that you cannot sit or stand but have to lie down and take narcotic pain medication until you fall asleep. If the medical record supports your testimony and the judge finds you credible, he might ask the VE a question like this:
Social Security has a stated goal of encouraging disabled claimants to return to work. However, as a practical matter, work attempts are treated very differently depending on where you are in the process. While you are waiting for your decision, work attempts can help your case (if these attempts are short and unsuccessful) or they can cause a judge to conclude that you are not disabled and do have the capacity for work.
After you are found disabled, my experience has been that Social Security is much more forgiving in terms of both the length of your work attempts and the type of work you may try.
Social Security judges see more back pain cases than any other impairment. Because of this, you need to do whatever you can to make your case stand out. If you come to your hearing with vague complaints that your lower back “hurts all the time,” that you “can’t lift very much” and that you “can’t sit very long” you are going to lose. Judges expect to see MRI or CT scan reports, support from a treating doctor, on-going treatment records, and specific testimony from you about what you can and cannot do.
In this video I discuss how I approach back pain cases and some specific steps you can take to improve your chances at winning.