A-This question assumes that you lost the claim at Level I and then you appealed at Level II and lost and now you are at Level III and have the chance to appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge. That is when you need to appear and give live testimony at the hearing. This will give you and I an opportunity to present the evidence and the Judge will look at your case fresh and without any prejudice.
Yes, you will need to testify. The judge will ask you a series of questions, and I may ask you a series of questions but you definitely will need to give your testimony. You will not need to memorize a script but you need to tell the truth and keep your answers short. The best evidence that we have in your case are the medical records I collected over the last year that I probably have represented you. I will ask questions about your functional abilities. What do you do around your home, do you do any cleaning, shopping? Do you attend church? Do you attend any social activities, are you taking walks? Is your home a one story or multiple stories requiring you to climb stairs? Are you cooking for your family? I will ask you about your education level and how long ago, or whether you attended any technical school after your high school years. If you have a college degree I will ask you about the type of degree you have and how you have used this degree in your jobs over the years. Either the judge or I will ask you about all your prior work for the last 15 years. You need to know where you worked and what type of work you did and how much you lifted, twisted, bended in your job. This is very important for the VE as he/she are present in the hearing so that they can best classify your past relevant work. I will then ask you about your medical condition and why you consider that you are disabled. I will ask you how you cope with the pain, do you need rest during the day, and if so, how much and how often.
Your answers should coincide with the notes that we have from your treating physician. If your doctors states that you have some bad days and could miss up to 4 days a month or even one day a week from work. That information is very relevant and I would expect that your answers will coincide with the medical notes. Your testimony should last about 20 to 40 minutes between the judge's and my questions. It is absolute imperative that you do not exaggerate your symptoms in your statements. If your medical records indicate that you cannot stand sit and walk for one hour each for a total of three hours, then do not tell the judge that you can only do all these only 10 minutes at a time. That is a red flag for the Judge.
I prepare my clients well in advance of the hearing for their testimony. The Judge is professional and not attempting to intimidate you but they are only intended to gather information and whether that information coincides with the medical evidence that I have already presented to the Judge. All in all I found my clients to rise to the occasion and do extremely well when giving their oral testimony in their disability case.