One thing that clients bring up when I first speak with them is that they have a witness, or witnesses, that they want to testify at their hearing.
While witnesses can be helpful in some cases, I’m very hesitant to recommend them in a lot of hearings.
The most important thing to keep in mind with a disability hearing is that the judge will want to hear directly from you. They’ve read your medical records and know your diagnoses, now they want to know more specifically how these conditions are affect you.
An MRI might show that you have bulging discs, but what kind of pain does that cause you? What increases that pain? Or makes it better? Are there things you used to do that you can’t do anymore because of your back pain? Answering these types of questions will help you build your case.
A witness can answer these questions too, but someone else saying they see you have difficulty walking or doing chores is just not going to hold as much weight with the judge as your first-hand knowledge.
There are exceptions, of course. If a claimant has severe memory problems from medication or a traumatic brain injury, a witness is going to be very helpful because they’re going to have difficulty answering even basic questions.
I’ve also found witnesses can be convincing in cases that are based largely on mental health impairments like anxiety and depression, as many people with these conditions have difficulty explaining their symptoms.
And there are also some judges who just seem to give more weight to witness testimony, so it’s important to discuss the issues surrounding witnesses with your attorney to determine if calling one is going to be helpful for your case.