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Why Witnesses Aren't Always A Good Idea

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When you have your hearing for your Social Security Disability claim, you'll have an opportunity to present witnesses who can attest to your previous and current state of health and ability. This sounds good, but it isn't always the best idea to bring in witnesses. Many times, your medical records and history are good enough when presented in a clear manner (and yes, you do need a Social Security Disability attorney to help you put your case together) are enough. Even if you think your witness would make your case perfect, listen to your attorney; sometimes a witness can make things worse.

Time Can Make Memories Deteriorate

Social Security Disability hearings don't happen immediately. In fact, they can take some time, and in that time, people's memories can fade and become jumbled. People remember seeing you at an event this year when really they saw you there two years ago. People remember your clothes and hair differently from what they were on the day they were trying to describe. And this isn't on purpose; they truly mean well but have lost a lot of the details in the memories. Faded memories can make your case look inconsistent and result in a negative outcome. If your attorney thinks you don't need witnesses, don't insist on including them.

Sometimes People Don't Pay Attention

Most witnesses tend to be employers, friends, family members, and others who you know well and with whom you have dealt with a lot. They are trustworthy and want the best for you — yet sometimes, even the best people in you life don't pay attention that well, and details they miss can derail your claim. For example, you might say that you've been unable to lift your arms above shoulder height, but then a friend might make a comment about seeing you raise your arms higher than that — when it was really someone standing next to you, and your friend just didn't look that closely. That mistake can make your case a lot harder to prove.

Unnecessary Witnesses Can Take Up Too Much Time

One of the reasons disability can take so long to get is that there are many, many cases waiting to be heard. So when you're finally in a hearing, you do not want to waste the court's time at all. If your medical records are clear about what happened and how your health has been affected, and you clearly meet the definition of disabled per the Social Security Administration's policy, you may not need a witness and would only be delaying the judge from hearing other cases if you presented a witness. Your attorney can help you decide if a witness would be a good or unhelpful addition to your hearing.

If your attorney thinks the witness is credible and would be a good asset, then maybe the witness can come along and be there in case the judge decides he or she wants to hear from the witness. Other than that, do what your attorney says.