All Disability. All The Time.

1 thing you never say at an SSDI hearing

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | Social Security Disability |

You filed your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim and waited – only to end up denied. You filed your appeal and were denied again, forcing you to endure the long wait before a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Speaking to the ALJ about your situation can be nerve-wracking, but it can help if you prepare what you want to say in advance. Equally important, however, is understanding what you should never say to the ALJ in response to one very important question.

The central issue at hand is why you can’t work

Whether the ALJ asks you directly, “Why can’t you work?” or gives you an open-ended forum to explain why you’re unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, the one response you should never give is anything along the lines of, “Nobody will hire me!”

While that may be true, that doesn’t help your case. Saying nobody will hire you implies that you can work – but you just can’t find a job – and SSDI is not a substitute for unemployment.

Many people make this mistake because they’re worried that the ALJ may think they’re lazy or trying to “game” the system for benefits, and they’re eager to dispel that notion – but that’s going about the issue the wrong way.

What do you say instead? You stress the way that your disability prevents you from finding work by stating exactly how your condition limits you. For example, if you have a back injury, you might say, “I haven’t been able to work since my back injury because…” and then list off things like:

  • “I can’t lift more than five pounds at once, and only occasionally”
  • “I can’t stand more than 10 minutes.”
  • “Manual labor is all I’ve ever done, and I don’t have the education or skills to transfer to something else.”
  • “Even if I could transition to a desk job, sitting in a chair is impossible because of the back pain and the numbness in my legs.”
  • “The pain medication I take to control my pain makes it very hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.”

That’s a much clearer explanation of why you cannot find employment, and it doesn’t run the risk of misinterpretation by the ALJ.

If your SSDI claim has been denied, you may have more success with experienced legal assistance.