A common issue in making a successful claim for disability benefits is credibility. That means, it is important to establish yourself as a credible applicant with the Social Security Administration officials reviewing your claim. When it comes time for an Administrative Law Judge to analyze your case, that judge will necessarily assess your credibility. Here are a few things our Joplin social security disability attorney recommends you consider before you attend your hearing.
You need to establish your credibility by being truthful
Even though it may seem obvious that you must demonstrate your honesty, judges often ask questions to which they already know the answer. They do this in order to see if you are being untruthful in an attempt to bolster your claim. One example of this is making allegations of impairments at the hearing that you never sought medical treatment for.
A common misconception is that you need to tell the judge you cannot do anything, even when there are little things you can do. While those little things may not hurt your case, lying about them certainly can. This is where preparation with a Joplin social security disability attorney who regularly appears disability hearings will be helpful. Knowing exactly what your records show, as well as the tendencies of a particular judge, can be very important.
Make sure your statements regarding your condition are consistent
Another issue that can affect your credibility is being inconsistent with doctors about how you feel. If you make statements to a doctor that you are not having any problems, but later try to claim at a hearing that those problems exist, you will damage your credibility. Another problem can be telling one doctor you are having a certain problem and then telling another doctor the exact opposite. Be sure to remain consistent about your medical condition at all times.
Do not exaggerate the severity of your disability
This may seem like common sense, but there are very subtle ways you can hurt your claim if you are not careful. For example, if you are claiming that you cannot do anything, but according to your x-rays your problem is relatively mild, then it will seem that you are exaggerating. Many people believe that a judge wants to hear that they are incapable of doing anything at all, but that is not always reasonable and certainly not a requirement.
Your appearance and actions at the hearing cannot be contradictory to your claim
Judges typically get upset if a client says one thing about his condition but then demonstrates the complete opposite. For example, if you can sit at the hearing for nearly an hour without showing any discomfort, you cannot then testify that you can only sit for “five minutes.” More importantly, if you have not been showing any discomfort before you are questioned, then don’t start looking uncomfortable after the question. It is very obvious that your claims are fabricated, or at least exaggerated. While it is quite appropriate to stand up or change positions at a hearing if you need to, just don’t wait an hour into the hearing after you have been asked about your ability to sit for long periods of time before you show your discomfort.
Failing to comply with all of your doctor’s instructions
Another way Social Security assesses the validity of your complaints is whether you have complied with the doctor’s recommended treatment by following your doctor’s advice, taking your medication as prescribed, using assistive devices as ordered, and keeping your medical appointments. Otherwise, your failure to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment may lead Social Security to conclude that your condition is not as severe or limiting as you have represented.
What you are required to prove to support your Social Security Disability claim
You are considered disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” The Social Security Administration expects that your disability will last for at least one year or result in death. However, the Social Security Administration does not actually make the decision. Your Joplin social security disability attorney can help you be prepared to support your claim.
If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability hearings or any other Social Security Disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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