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Should You be Concerned About "Trick Questions" from the Social Security Disability Judge?

Back in May, 2014 I released a video about trick questions from Social Security disability judges and I continue to receive a great deal of feedback and comments on that video. In the 2014 video I talked about one type of trick questions but there are many examples you should know about – thus this new video.

My experience has been that disability judges are not trying to treat you unfairly with their questions, but instead, use their experience and knowledge to ask probing and incisive questions. More specifically they want to assess your credibility by asking questions to which they already know the answer so they can see how you respond.

Many of these questions relate to your medical record – comments you may have made to your doctor about work attempts, stopping bad habits like smoking or marijuana use, or even about how you are feeling on a particular day.  You may have forgotten about that quick conversation you had with your doctor 2 years ago, but there is a good possibility that your doctor wrote down the substance of what you said.

If you exaggerate or worse, lie, the judge will likely conclude that he/she cannot believe anything you say. Under no circumstances should you try to mislead or outsmart an experienced and savvy judge.

My experience has also been that disability claimants rarely lie, but they are often nervous and they try to give the judge an answer that they think the judge will like. This approach usually backfires.

I advise my clients not to try to create the perfect answer for the judge, but, instead, to tell the truth as thoroughly and completely as they can.

If the truth contains information that is not entirely supportive of your claim, so be it – we can practice how to present that information in a pre-hearing meeting.

In this video I peel back the layers and provide several examples of simple questions that judges use to catch you in an exaggeration or lie. If you understand what is going on with these questions, you will feel more comfortable not overthinking your testimony and simply fall back on reporting your symptoms and issues clearly and concisely.

3 thoughts on “Should You be Concerned About "Trick Questions" from the Social Security Disability Judge?”

  1. Thank you so much Mr. Ginsberg for being such a proactive Attorney in creating a website where everyone can benefit from you expertise and helpful case /experiences!

    My question to you is what to do when you have a representative (non-attorney) who was so lax in representing you that in the 2 years I was his client he never met with me.
    He acquired copies of my med records on CDs and then he allegedly made over 3,000 hardcopies just so he could charge me hundreds of dollars for the copies.
    Yet,when the Judge asked him for copies of documents pertinent to my case he could not supply them. I had the copies the Judge needed so I supplied them!
    I honestly don’t believe he deserves the $7,000 he received from my disability/SSI back pay, what can I do if anything?
    I would at least like to report is unprofessional business practices.

    I sincerely apologize for the length of this message.

    Thank you very much for your time and consideration in responding to my question.
    Very Sincerely, Grace

    1. Grace, are you sure that the rep received $7,000 – normally reps (both attorneys and non-attorneys) are limited to $6,000 under a fee contract. Second, every favorable decision gives you an option to challenge a fee approval – this would enable you to go before a judge to explain why you think the award is not appropriate. I would suggest that you schedule a sit-down with the rep to ask some of these questions – perhaps the rep was doing a lot of useful work behind the scenes that you don’t know about.

      1. Thanks for your reply, Jonathan. The fee I quoted for my representative of $7000 included the SSI back pay I received as well.
        My intention was to appeal his fee based on the fact that he NEVER met with me in the 2 years he allegedly was representing me, he called me twice; one being the NIGHT BEFORE MY HEARING, he asked me to meet him at 8 am before the schedulesd 11 am hearing but he was no where to be found, I witnessed him drinking alcohol in the parking lot before our scheduled hearing time, when the Judge asked him if he could provide some very pertinent documentation he stated he didn’t have it, yet he charged me $200 for allegedly making over 2,000 copies of my medical records none of which were needed, I had to introduce myself to him at the hearing office and he just walked away. I had to supply the judge with ALL the pertinent paperwork he needed.

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