Your Testimony

What will I testify about at the hearing?

1. Medical Condition:

The judge will ask how your medical condition makes you feel. you should tell the judge about the symptoms your experience such as pain, dizziness, numbness, nausea or paralysis as well as you can.

For example, if your case involves pain, you might be asked:

• Is the pain burning, stabbing, crushing, sharp, throbbing, radiating or aching?
• Do your activities affect the pain?
• What do you do to relieve pain?
• What medicine do you take for pain?
• How well does the medication work?
• Are there any side effects from the pain medication?

Before the hearing, you should make notes to yourself about what conditions you have and how they affect you. Do not leave anything out!

2. Medical History

The judge may ask you how often you see your doctor, what sort of treatment your doctor provides, what medication you are presently taking, how often you take each medication and whether there are any side effects.

You may also be asked to describe the symptoms and treatment of your medical condition since it began. You may be asked what your doctor has told you about your problem, but the judge won't ask you medical questions about your disability.

3. Physical Abilities

If you have a physical disability, the judge will ask you a lot of questions about what you are able to do. For example:
• How far you can walk before resting;
• How long you can sit and stand at one time during an eight-hour day;
• How much you can lift.

4. Mental Abilities

The judge will ask about your ability to understand, carry out and remember instructions, to use good judgment, to respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, usual work situations, and changes in your work setting.

5. Education and Training

The judge will ask you how far you went in school, if you have had any training in the military, if you can read and write, and if you have had any job training.

6. Work Experience

The judge will ask you about the jobs you have had during the past 15 years. If your condition caused you to miss a lot of work or caused you to stop working, you should explain this.

7. Daily Activities

The judge will ask you a lot of questions to find out how your disability affects you. For example:

• How do you spend your time during the whole day;
• How well you usually sleep;
• If you take naps during the day;
• What things you do around the house, such as cooking, housework, or gardening;
• If you go shopping;
• If you drive a car;
• What hobbies and activities you have now.

Witnesses

Can I have witnesses at the hearing?

You can bring relatives, friends or others to the hearing as witnesses, or have them write letters to submit to the judge. Good witnesses are persons who see you regularly and see how your medical condition affects you. The best witnesses are usually not friends or relatives, but someone else who knows you, such as a neighbor or former boss. Witnesses should talk about the activities that you are not able to do.

What is a "Vocational Expert"?

Usually the judge will ask a vocational expert to testify at the hearing, at SSA's expense. A "vocational expert" will testify whether or not your disabilities make a job too hard for you to do, and which jobs you might be able to perform in spite of your disabilities.

What is a "Medical Advisor"?

Sometimes the judge will ask a doctor or psychologist to testify at your hearing. The medical advisor is paid by SSA to help the judge decide if you have a serious medical problem that keeps you from being able to work.