Testifying Spouses/Significant Others vs. Third Party Statements21 Nov
Marken Law Group, PS has helped hundreds obtain Social Security Disability Benefits. We do not charge a fee unless you get the benefits you deserve!
Many people, understandably, want their spouses or significant others to testify as to their conditions at hearing. Spouses and significant others, after all know a lot about our daily activities and disabling conditions. Many times we have noted, spouses and significant others know more about a claimant’s conditions and doctors than the claimant’s themselves. This is understandable. The problem is when these caring people want to testify at your administrative law hearing. It is not advised. What is advised is they write what is referred to as a lay witness statement. These statements can be as long or short as the person writing desires. Most statements are 1-2 pages and point out in detail what the person’s daily life is like, their limitations, and how the disabling conditions has affected their life and most importantly, their inability to work. Your attorney, assuming you have one, should review the lay witness statements for content.
What is not advised is live testimony in front of the administrative law judge. There are several reasons this testimony should be avoided. First, the administrative judge has great discretion in how they proceed with their hearings. It should be noted an administrative law judge in a disability hearing is tasked to make a credibility determination, i.e. to see if you are telling the truth. A judge, for example, could have to you testify to specific questions they ask, then have you leave and your significant other/spouse testify. A judge will do this often to gauge the accuracy of the claimant. A judge will ask you and your spouse the same question, when testifying but in different rooms, to judge the dependability of the statement. The statement might not even be a lie, but a misconception between two people. If the claimant testifies to the judge he/she can walk one block before needing a rest but your spouse says two blocks, this can damage the claimant’s credibility. It need not happen!
A better way to allow your spouse/significant other to advocate for your disability claim is the third party statement. They will not be asked to testify based on this statement and they can be much more descriptive and detailed than if they were simply answering questions from a judge. Consult an attorney if you are debating having your significant other testify on your behalf. It could be the difference between winning your disability claim or losing!
Marken Law Group, PS, does not charge a fee unless we get you disability benefits! Call today for a free consultation. No Benefits, No Fee!