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What should I not say at a Social Security Disability hearing?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY - Social Security Disability

Maryland residents have a right to appeal a denial of a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. When your claim is denied, you can first ask for a reconsideration, which means your case is reviewed by someone else and you have a chance to present new evidence.

If your reconsideration is denied, you can appeal to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and a hearing will be scheduled. While it is important to thoroughly prepare for your appeal hearing and know what to say and present, knowing what not to say is just as important.

Stay focused on why you are there

One of the biggest mistakes people make at ALJ hearings is talking about irrelevant information.

This is easy to do because you naturally want to give the ALJ as much information as possible, but you should only give information that pertains directly to your disability claim. This includes information about your disability, how it affects your daily life, your medical history and your work history.

In fact, giving too much irrelevant information can have the opposite effect. You may confuse or annoy the ALJ if you veer off onto unrelated topics.

Do not interrupt or argue

Do not interrupt the ALJ or anyone else speaking. ALJ hearings are conducted in a formal manner. Interrupting is also likely to annoy the ALJ and you will appear disrespectful.

It is tempting to want to speak if someone else says something you believe is untrue or inaccurate but stay silent and remember that you will have a chance to speak.

Do not argue with anyone at the hearing. It is normal to feel anxious at a hearing and appear defensive.

Although this is an emotional time, do not let your emotions take over at the hearing. Take deep breaths to calm yourself down, if necessary.

Do not exaggerate or minimize

When it is your turn to speak, be honest. Do not exaggerate your symptoms, but do not minimize them either. ALJ’s can generally sense when someone is being dishonest. However, be truthful about your daily struggles caused by your disability.