“My pain is at a 10/10 every day.”
“My joints hurt constantly.”
“I have major panic attacks all the time.”
“I never do housework anymore.”
“Nothing. I do nothing all day but lay around really.”
While these kinds of statements may really feel like the truth, SSA review staff and SSA judges will typically view them as exaggeration. They are trained to listen for severe issues, but within reason. Using phrases like the ones above, or anything like “always”, “never”, “constantly”, are trigger words for SSA and judges reviewing your case. It will often immediately make them question if you can be trusted to describe your situation accurately. If they cannot find you trustworthy, it is easier for them to dismiss your conditions as non-severe. And ultimately, to deny your case.
It is very important that you testify to the judge or provide information to SSA that isn’t exaggerated OR underplayed. It should be similar to what you are telling your doctors as well. When SSA or a judge reads your medical records they will compare your comments to your doctor to the information you provide on SSA forms.
By working with an experienced attorney, you will receive the benefit of this kind of insider knowledge. A thorough attorney will walk you through a practice round of questions you will likely get asked at a hearing.