Can I have someone testify at my Social Security Disability hearing?
As a Disability lawyer in Cincinnati, common phrase I tell people when we are getting ready for a Disability hearing is that Social Security court is not like "regular court" and it is not like what you see on tv. One aspect that people often think of in a civil or criminal trial is witnesses. During many trials, it is common practice to see multiple, sometimes dozens, of witnesses for both sides take the stand and testify to whichever side they are supporting.
However, again, Social Security Disability court is not like most trials. When people ask
me if their friend or family member can testify at the hearing regarding their disability, the answer is usually "maybe". First, some judges do not want other people in the hearing other than the people necessary so they will not allow it. while some judges do not mind it at all. Second, is this person testifying going to help your case? A friend or family member telling the Judge you are disabled doesn't hurt, but it also probably doesn't carry a lot of weight because they are inherently biased. It is rare that they are, but if a doctor or psychiatrist is willing to testify at your hearing, this will be much more persuasive to a judge because a doctor is a professional who knows your limitations.
So while witnesses are often allowed at Social Security Disability hearings, they are not openly encouraged either. I often tell my clients if their friends or family would like to contribute, a letter to the judge can often be just as helpful and the judge is usually much more receptive to this. A key concept to Social Security Disability is remembering that the judge wants to hear what your doctors think about your health, not simply everyone you know. As I stated above, while an acquaintance is unlikely to hurt your case, their opinion during a hearing is not very likely to significantly help it either.