One of the most common questions clients ask me in preparing for a hearing is “What should I say?”
Ethically, I can’t tell you what to say. Even if I could, there are no magic words that will convince a judge to grant you disability benefits.
There are, however, a couple things to keep in mind when preparing for a disability hearing.
The first thing is to be honest. There is a lot of information in your medical records, some favorable, and some unfavorable. Some claimants will try to play down things like a history of drug use or alcoholism because they think it will hurt their case.
While a history of substance abuse can affect a disability claim, it will not necessarily result in an unfavorable decision. And as judges are trying to assess your honesty, trying to act like these things aren’t there is even worse for a case.
The best thing you can do is just be honest about everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Another issue that pops up regularly is that clients want to talk about issues unrelated to their claim.
Remember that in a disability claim the Social Security Administration only takes into account the severe medical impairments that affect your ability to work.
Often, claimants want to talk about the lack of jobs where they live, or family commitments that keep them from working.
I do sympathize with those issues, but unfortunately, those are not reasons to be found disabled under Social Security’s rules. One of the best things you can do for your case is to focus purely on the medical conditions that are keeping you from working and avoiding getting sidetracked by other issues.