The Right Witness Can Benefit Social Security Disability Cases

Witness Can Benefit Social Security Disability

After being diagnosed with an illness (mental or physical) or injury that leaves you disabled, you may find yourself overwhelmed with where to turn next.

If you fit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria for your condition and have worked enough in the past to receive a certain amount of work credits, you could be eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, which is a program that provides monthly payments if you’re younger than the retirement age and are no longer able to work.

You can apply for total disability, which is when your condition prohibits you from performing substantial gainful activity for a minimum of one year.

If you decide to apply for Social Security disability benefits, it’s prudent to hire a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases to improve your chances of getting approved. A Social Security attorney understands what is required and what the necessary steps are to take in order to avoid getting the claim denied and having to go through the appeals process.

Can you have a witness for an Social Security Disability case?

In some circumstances a witness can be a helpful tool during the Social Security disability application process. If witnesses will be included, make sure the Social Security Administration knows ahead of time.

Understand that sometimes witnesses can do more harm than help. The judge will expect you to know your condition better than anyone else, and will assume you can successfully answer questions relating to your disability, why you can’t work and why you should be granted Social Security disability benefits. Witnesses won’t be allowed to be present during your testimony, so if they give information different than what you originally said, it could damage your credibility.

On the other hand, having a credible witness who knows you and your limitations could bolster your claim. A former employer or a caregiver may have first-hand knowledge of your disability and they can testify to your impairments and how they limit your ability to function in your daily life and in a work environment.

Specifically, anyone who can testify to:

  • Your losing consciousness or awareness during an episode,
  • You have mental limited that makes it challenging to communicate your disability
  • You are under under 18 (meaning a parent should be a witness).

If you opt to have a witnesses testify on your behalf, limit it to three at the most to avoid overwhelming the administrative law judge. You want to choose people who are very familiar with your disability and understand it from your perspective.

You can request for the testimonial of a medical expert (which Social Security Administration pays for), if you and your attorney believe this would be beneficial. If you make this request, be sure you have a Social Security disability lawyer to question them.

In cases of physical impairment, you want to choose witnesses who can talk about your inability to perform certain tasks, particularly those that relate to working and daily living. Similarly, if your disability is mental, your witnesses should testify to what you can and cannot do, such as remember important people, places and things, go out and return home without getting lost, bathe and get dressed without assistance and use personal judgment. To prove you’re unable to work in these cases, a boss or coworker could testify to the fact that you can’t remember procedures or you’re too irritable to work in any sort of social setting.

Keep in mind, the judge may also request a witness, such as a doctor or a medical expert. Additionally, Social Security disability sources noted that the judge may call a close friend of family who is at your hearing, even if you didn’t mean for them to be a witness in the case that the judge feels you aren’t able to fully articulate on on specific subject.

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