Russell & Hill, PLLC

Should my significant other testify at my Social Security Hearing?

Posted on : June 9, 2016Posted By : Russell HillPosted In : SSD

In a word, no. Many people believe their spouse knows more about their illness and impairments than any other person, and that is often true. But for Social Security purposes, specifically at the hearing level, spousal or significant other testimony can be more harmful than helpful—here is why.

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One of the determining factors in a social security hearing is whether the judge finds a claimant credible, to say in another way, whether or not they think you are lying or exaggerating the truth. The only way to determine credibility is to have inconsistent statements by the claimant, with their own medical records, or if a spouse and significant other testifies in any way that is contradictory.

While a spouse or significant other can know a lot about your impairments and your daily life, if anything from their testimony differs from your own, the judge will have an easy rationale to find you not credible. Let’s use an example as simple as washing the dishes. Say you tell the judge that you occasionally wash the dishes but your husband testifies you never wash the dishes. You will be found not to be credible, in part, because of this minor discrepancy.

Another example would be if the judge asks you whether or not you clean your house and you testify that you do not, but your husband testifies that you vacuum occasionally. There is an adequate reason for the judge to find you lacking credibility. Seemingly innocuous statements can be used against you when a spouse or significant other testify at your disability hearing. Another important point to note is that if you choose to have your significant other or spouse testify, they will not be in the room when you testify and vice versa. The judge will have you wait outside of the conference room and bring you in when their testimony has concluded. This is an important fact that most Social Security claimants do not realize.

In the end, the judge wants to hear from you, the claimant who is attempting to get disability benefits, as to what you can and cannot do. Supplemental testimony is often more hurtful than helpful. You should be working with your attorney to go over what types of questions the judge will ask and how to present yourself in the actual hearing.

We encourage spouses and significant others to be at the hearing for support, whether or not they are admitted into the hearing room. A disability hearing can be a stressful time and it is important to have all the support possible when you arrive at the hearing.

At Russell and Hill, PLLC, we represent social security claimants in front of an administrative law judge and at times, in Federal Court on appeal. We have experienced attorneys who are able to represent you in this often complex and confusing process for many people. Contact one of our social security and disability attorneys in Spokane or Tacoma today.

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