Questions the Judge will ask you at your Hearing

Below is a list of questions commonly asked by an Administrative Law Judge to a claimant (the person who is applying for disability benefits) at a Social Security disability hearing.  At the hearing, these questions will be answered under oath, so the answers must be truthful.  The questions and the answers are all recorded as a part of the official record of the hearing. 

The judge's questions are typically divided into three broad categories or groups: questions about the claimant’s personal background, questions about why the claimant believes they are unable to do any type of full-time work, and questions about what the claimant does during a typical day. 

How each judge asks the questions differs from judge to judge: different judges have different styles. Some judges like to ask all the questions themselves, some judges like to have the lawyer ask all the questions, and some judges like to ask some of the questions and then have the lawyer ask some questions.  Who asks the questions doesn't matter.  The important thing is to listen to each question and to answer the question as honestly as you can.  If the honest answer is "I don't know" or "I don't remember",  that's ok. Its not a test and you are not getting graded: just answer the questions the best you can and you will be fine.  

 

Background questions:

 

Please state your name for the record.

Please state your date of birth.

Please state your social security number.

What is your marital status?

Who do you live with? 

Do you have any children?  How old are your children?  Do your children live with you?

What was the highest grade that you completed in school?

Did you complete any specialized vocational/job training after you completed school?

Did you serve in the military?

Ability to work questions:

Are you working?

When was the last time you did any type of work? 

Since you stopped working, have you tried to find other work?

If your old boss where to offer you your old job today, do you think you could do it full-time?

Why do you feel that you could not do your old job today?

Do you experience physical pain?

 

Where in your body do you experience physical pain?

 

If you were going to rate your physical pain on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 would be an itch you needed to scratch and 10 would be so much pain you would pass out: on average where would you rate your pain?

What do you do for your pain?

Are you prescribed pain medications?

 

What are the names of the medications that are prescribed for you?

(Hint: if you have a lot of medications, gather them up in a zip-lock bag and bring them with you to the hearing.  At the hearing, when the judge asks you what your medications are, you can just read off the bottle labels to the judge.)

Do your prescribed pain medications help with the pain?

 

Do your prescribed pain medications have any types of side-effects?  Do they make you sleepy, groggy, dopey, etc.?

What else have you tried for your pain?

 

Do you use any home remedies for your pain? Hot packs, ice, message, etc.?

Do they help?

What do your doctors want to do for you for your pain?  (Future treatments, surgeries, etc.)

If I was to ask you to stand in one place for me – like you were working at a store behind a check-out counter – how long could you stand for before you would need to get off your feet?

 

If I was to ask you to sit straight up in a chair with your feet on the floor, how long could you sit before you would need to get out of the chair?

 

When you are seated, do you need to elevate your legs?

 

Are you right or left handed?

What do you think is the heaviest thing you can lift comfortably today?

Do you have any difficulty moving your head from side to side or up and down?

If you have psychological problems, do you think that they interfere with your ability to do full-time work?

What kinds of problems do your psychological conditions cause you?

 

Do you have difficulty being around other people?

 

Do you have difficulty concentrating and staying focused?

 

If I asked you to watch a 30-minute TV show, would you be able to tell me what the show was about after it was over?

 

Are you taking any medications for your psychological problems?  If so, what are they?

Do those medications help with your psychological problems?

Do those medications have any side-effects?

Are you in therapy?  Is it one-on-one therapy with a therapist or is it group therapy or is it both?

 

How long have you been treating with a therapist?

Have you ever tried to hurt yourself?

 

Have you ever had to be hospitalized for your psychological problems?

A typical day

When you get up in the morning, do you have any difficulty using the bathroom, showering, getting dressed?

Are you able to make meals for yourself?

Do you do any house work?

Do you take naps during the day?  If you do, how often and for how long?

Do you watch T.V.?

When you watch T.V. are you sitting down in a chair or lying down on a couch or bed?

Do you have a computer?

 

How much time do you spend on your computer every day?

Do you play games on your computer? Watch movies? Chat with friends?

Who takes care of your children?  Who dresses them, baths them, feeds them, gets them to school? 

Do you have a pet? Who walks the pet? Who feeds the pet?

Do you have a driver’s license?

Where do you typically drive to?

How long are these drives?

 

When was the last time you took a vacation?

 

Where did you go?

How did you get there?

 

Do you go grocery shopping?

 

Are you able to push a grocery cart down an isle and fill it up with groceries?

Do you need help getting groceries in and out of your car?  If you do, who helps you?

Do you attend religious services?  How long are the services?

 

Do you ever go to see a movie or out to dinner?

Do you smoke cigarettes?

Do you drink alcohol?

Besides the drugs prescribed for you by a doctor, do you take any drugs not prescribed by a doctor?  (Street drugs, medical marijuana, etc.)

Have you ever been to jail or prison?

Is there anything else that you would like the judge to know concerning your situation and why you feel you can’t work?