DON’T DRESS UP. We want the Judge to see you as you normally look every day around the house. Women should not wear fingernail polish or expensive jewelry.
TELL THE TRUTH. DO NOT overstate your problems, however, DO NOT understate your problems.
Listen to the question. Let the questioner (the judge or us) finish the question before you start to answer.
Answer the question that you are asked.
Answer the question and stop (DO NOT explain your answer unless asked to do so).
DO NOT question the judge.
DO NOT comment on the evidence or offer suggestions or thoughts to the judge.
DO NOT “think out loud.”
If you do not know the answer to the question say so, do not guess.
If you are not sure of an answer it is perfectly all right to say: “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”
If you do not understand a question, ask that it be repeated or explained.
Speak up at your hearing so that you can be heard and understood.
Do not try to put on a brave front at your hearing. There are no awards for bravery. If it hurts, testify that it hurts. If you cannot do something, testify that you cannot do it. You cannot expect a fair decision from the Judge unless he or she knows what is wrong with you.
If, because of your condition, you need to stand up or walk around during your hearing, do it. You do not have to ask permission, however we suggest that you do. Remember that, if you testify that you can only sit 15 minutes at a time and then sit in agony through a 45 minute hearing, the Judge will think that you are lying.
THINK “HEAD TO TOE” WHEN DESCRIBING YOUR PROBLEMS. You will be nervous when you testify. This is natural. One way to be sure that you tell the Judge about all your problems is to describe them from “head to toe,” that is, start at your head and describe your difficulties going down your body.
BE PREPARED TO GIVE ESTIMATES ABOUT YOUR ABILITIES/LIMITATIONS. You may be asked to give estimates about your abilities and limitations. For example, you may be asked how far can you walk and how long you can you stand. The Judge is looking for an average. We know that every day is different and that your abilities and limitations may vary on a given day.
Notwithstanding, you should be prepared to answer some or all of these questions:
How much can you lift? In other words, how much can you lift comfortably without a great deal of pain.
How far can you walk? In terms of city blocks, how far you can walk at one time without a great deal of pain.
How long can you stand? In other words, how long can you stand without a great deal of pain before you need to sit.
How long can you sit? In other words, how long can you sit comfortably and before you have to get up.
BE PREPARED TO EXPLAIN WHY YOU STOPPED WORKING AND WHEN. Judges frequently ask why you stopped working and when. An answer such as: “Because my health would not let me continue” does not tell the Judge why you stopped. An answer such as: “Because I had too much pain in my legs” provides useful information that can help the Judge decide your claim.
THINK ABOUT NON-WORK ACTIVITIES AND HOBBIES. Judges expect that you will testify that you cannot work. For that reason, they try to find out indirectly whether you are able to work.
If you testify that you cannot concentrate long enough to hold a job, the Judge may whether you like to read or attend church services. If you testify that you read several hours each day, or spend all day in Church on Sunday, the Judge likely will conclude that your ability to concentrate is greater than you are claiming. Be prepared to describe what you do on an average day from the time that you wake up until the time that you go to sleep.
BE FLEXIBLE AND TRUST OUR EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR JUDGE.
BRING ALL YOUR MEDICATIONS TO THE HEARING. Please bring ALL your medications to the hearing. If you are taking a medication that must be refrigerated, feel free to bring the medication box and NOT the medication itself.
ARRIVE EARLY FOR YOUR HEARING. Please get to the place where the hearing will be held about 30 minutes before the hearing and sign in. You will be subject to a comprehensive search of your person and belongings. Do not try to carry into the place of the hearing any object that could be considered to be dangerous (such as a legally registered hand gun).
Many hearings are held in the Social Security Hearings Office which is in the Federal Building, 100 State Street, 4th Floor (Room 4140), between Church and Andrews Streets, in the City of Rochester (ZIP 14614).
Some hearings are held in one of two Social Security District Offices. The “City” District Office is located in the Five Star Bank Plaza Building (fka HSBC Building), 100 Chestnut Street, 13th Floor, in the City of Rochester (ZIP 14604). The Five Star Bank Plaza Building is behind Midtown Plaza and adjacent to Xerox Tower. There are parking garages and surface lots available for a fee. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU PARK AT A PARKING METER NEAR THE BUILDING.
The “Suburban” District Office is located in the Kohl’s Plaza, 4050 West Ridge Road, 2nd Floor Conference Room, in the Town of Greece (ZIP 14626). There is free surface parking at this District Office.
GETTING TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY HEARINGS OFFICE
From points west: Take Route 490 east and, near the inner loop, get off at the Plymouth Avenue exit (Exit 13). The light at the end of the exit is Plymouth Avenue. Make a right (going South). Off Plymouth Avenue, make a left onto Church Street (going East). The Federal Building is located just North of where Church Street ends at State Street. We recommend that you park in the Sister Cities Garage, located at the Southeast corner of Church & Fitzhugh Streets.
From points east. Take Route 490 west and get off at Exit 14 (Broad St./ Plymouth Ave). Follow Plymouth Avenue signs and go North (left) on Plymouth Avenue. Off Plymouth Avenue, make a right onto Church Street (going East). The Federal Building is located just North of where Church Street ends at State Street. We recommend that you park in the Sister Cities Garage, located at the Southeast corner of Church & Fitzhugh Streets.
GETTING TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY CITY DISTRICT OFFICE
From points west: Take Route 490 east and get off at the Inner Loop/South Avenue exit (Exit 15). Follow the Inner Loop signs. Get off the Route 31/Monroe Avenue exit. Continue straight and turn sharp left onto NY-Route 31/Monroe Avenue. Continue to follow NY-Route 31. This turns into Chestnut Street and you will arrive at 100 Chestnut Street.
From points east. Take Route 490 west and get off at the Clinton Avenue exit (Exit 16) toward Downtown. Turn slight right onto South Clinton Avenue/New York Route 15 North. Turn right onto Woodbury Boulevard. Turn left onto NY-Route 31/Monroe Avenue which becomes Chestnut Street and you will arrive at 100 Chestnut Street.
GETTING TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY SUBURBAN DISTRICT OFFICE
From points west: Take Route 490 East to Route 390 North. Get off at the Route 104 West exit (Exit 24B). Drive about 3.5 miles until you reach your destination on the right. The entrance to the Kohl’s Plaza is west of North Greece Road.
From points east. Take Route 490 west to Route 390 North. Get off at the Route 104 West exit (Exit 24B). Drive about 3.5 miles until you reach your destination on the right. The entrance to the Kohl’s Plaza is west of North Greece Road.