Your credibility may impact the Judge's decision about whether your conditions are disabling. While you may have numerous medical tests diagnosing various severe conditions, tests in general cannot show the severity of the pain you experience. To understand the severity of your pain, the Administrative Law Judge will often rely on your testimony about the type and degree of pain you feel. Different people have varying levels of pain tolerance, and you are the only one who can explain to the Judge how your pain affects you.
It is important for claimants to realize that their medical records contain more information than medical diagnoses and treatment histories. For instance, your doctor often records information about your daily activities, such as whether you have been on vacation, working in your garden, or riding a bicycle. So imagine that you are in your hearing and the judge asks you a personal question, and you think that an honest answer will lead the judge to believe that you are not disabled. You may think the best thing to do is to give a dishonest answer so as not to jeopardize your case. You may not realize, however, that the Judge already knows the answer to the question he is asking you because he has read about it in your medical records, and the reason he is asking the question is to find out whether you will tell the truth. If you are willing to tell the truth even when it is not to your benefit, the Judge will be much more likely to believe you later when you tell him about the severity of your pain and the limits it places upon your abilities. On the other hand, if you lie when you respond to the Judge's initial questions, and then later in the hearing you tell him that your pain is so bad that it brings you to your knees, don't be surprised if he raises his eyebrows at your testimony.
In some disability claims, the medical evidence is not persuasive enough by itself, and the outcome may rest on what you say at your hearing. If you are honest when you answer the Judge's questions, you will not have to worry about explaining inconsistent answers. Your hearing is held in private, and the answers you give at your hearing are being solicited solely to determine your disabling conditions.
Scott Lewis is an experienced Social Security disability attorney and has represented many of his Indiana neighbors. Mr. Lewis handles claims for a wide variety of disabling conditions including cancer, depression, stroke, heart conditions, and diabetes, to name a few. You can contact Mr. Lewis and his helpful staff by calling (317) 423-8888 for your free case evaluation.