Consumer Law Blog

How Do I Talk to the Judge at a Social Security Hearing?

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What should you say at your Social Security hearing?  When you go before an administrative law judge (ALJ) for your Social Security hearing, it helps to know how to best communicate with the judge. I always give my clients three rules to follow:

Be truthful

This may seem obvious, but it is extremely important. The ALJ will be focused on whether you are testifying honestly and may even ask a few questions to test you. So it is important that you are focused on it, too. What if you don’t know the answer to the ALJ’s question? Then tell him or her the truth: that you don’t know.

Be direct

Only answer the question you are asked at your Social Security hearing, either by the ALJ or your representative. For example, if you have an elbow injury and the ALJ asks you, “Which elbow hurts?” all he wants to know is right or left. Nothing more. Don’t tell the ALJ how you hurt it, or where, or when, etc. Tune in to what the ALJ is asking and limit your response accordingly.

Use numbers to be specific

If the ALJ asks you at your Social Security hearing how long you have had a certain problem, and you say, “A long time,” the ALJ will not know what that means. But if you say, “I have had that problem for 5 years,” or “since 2009,” then the ALJ will know exactly what you mean and he or she can move on to the next question.

Not an exhaustive list

This is not an exhaustive list. The tips I hear from other representatives are endless: say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ not ‘uh-huh’ and ‘uh-uh’; keep your voice up when testifying; don’t interrupt the ALJ; etc. They are generally excellent suggestions. But you will likely have a lot on your mind during that Social Security hearing. You may find it difficult to remember every instruction you have been given. If you just follow the three rules above, you will do fine.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Please call (303) 534-1958 or complete a contact form on our website.


About the AuthorJoe Whitcomb

Joe Whitcomb is the founder and president of Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC (WSM). In addition, he manages the firm and heads up the Government Procurement and International Business Transactions Law sections. As a result of his military service as a U.S. Army Ranger and as a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force, he learned mission accomplishment. While serving in the Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s in Social Sciences and a Master’s in International Relations. His Master’s emphasis was on National Security and International Political Economics. After his military career, Joe attended law school at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.