If you have a hearing for Social Security Disability benefits, a decision on your case will involve more than just a simple “yes” or “no.” The adjudicator must consider allegations of subjective complaints of pain or other symptoms, along with the rest of the relevant evidence on your case. One of the most important factors in deciding your case at the hearing will be your credibility.
In determining the credibility of your statements at the hearing, the adjudicator must consider the entire case record, including the objective medical evidence under SSR 96-7p. If you have completed the necessary forms, Social Security Administration will have access to your medical records and function reports. Falsely or grossly exaggerated complaints to your doctor may produce a diagnosis of malingering, which will adversely affect your claim.
Similarly, inconsistency on your function report can likewise affect your credibility at a hearing. For example, individuals who allege an inability to sit or stand for more than a few minutes at a time may be discredited by a function report indicating they routinely use public transportation to go shopping, run daily errands, and attend church or doctor’s appointments. Likewise, symptoms of fatigue may be exaggerated where claimants report they exercise regularly, frequently hunt or fish, or appear in the emergency room after engaging in extreme sports.
For most applicants, honesty is rarely an issue as they are under oath at a hearing. Your representative has a duty as well to be forthright in all dealings with Social Security Administration. At a hearing, tt is important that your testimony to be as consistent as possible with the record as a whole.