The 7 Rules to Follow to be Prepared for Your Disability Hearing

  1. It is most important for you to meet with your attorney before your scheduled hearing. While others may come with you to the pre-hearing meeting, it will be best if only you answer the attorney’s questions during the preparation as only you will be responding to the questions in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this meeting the attorney should explain the procedure and describe the setting and manner in which you will testify.
  2. Make sure you know the exact date, place, and time of your hearing. Also be familiar with available parking near the hearing office. And most importantly arrive at least thirty minutes before your hearing is set to begin.
  3. Come to the hearing dressed in appropriate clothes. Do not wear shorts, tank tops, blue jeans, t-shirts with logos or images or any other flamboyant type clothing. For men, a collared shirt is preferred, but no coat or tie. Please cover tattoos with long sleeves. No jewelry, other than a wedding ring and simple earrings. Use ambulatory assistive devices if absolutely necessary or prescribed. Do not bring any papers or files to the hearing room.
  4. You must always speak clearly and distinctly. Since the hearing will be digitally recorded and a microphone will be in front of you, you must give a clear verbal response to any question. You may not nod your head as an answer; it will not be picked up on the recording. Respond with yes and no, as opposed to “yeah, right, ok, or uh-huh” In response to questions from the Administrative Law Judge, respond with “Yes, Sir, No, Sir, or Yes, Your Honor and No, Your Honor.”
  5. Be prepared to clearly state the facts surrounding your health and daily living circumstances. These include being able to discuss in detail :
    • Your past work and what each job entailed from a physical standpoint;
    • Your medical impairment, dates of hospitalizations, prior treatments, current medical treatment and medication and any side effects;
    • Any pain, including the basis for pain, the location and a detailed description of the pain (stabbing, burning, numbing, throbbing, etc.);
    • How you care for your personal needs, if you drive a car and who does the daily activities of the household;
    • How long can you stand, sit, walk at one time, or test in a normal day (this must be in absolute terms: 15 min., 30 min., 50 feet, ½ a city block, or I lie down a total of 2-4-6 hours a day, not phrases such as “not too much, not too far, only a little while, only a short time, or just a little bit”
  6. If you do not know the answer to any question, are unsure, or did not understand the questions, simply state “I don’t know, I’m not sure or I did not understand the question, could you please repeat it?” There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification if you don’t understand, or did not hear the question.
  7. Most importantly, ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH, no matter what the question, do not hesitate to answer, do not stop to think of a good answer or what you might consider the best answer, but respond clearly, quickly and to the best of your ability.