How to Describe Your Symptoms

If you have applied for Social Security disability benefits, you may eventually need to testify about your condition during a hearing. You will likely need to discuss your symptoms as part of the testimony. A detailed discussion of your symptoms may be an important part of your case. If you need guidance in preparation for your hearing, a New Jersey Social Security disability attorney may be able to help.

You should describe how you feel rather than provide labels to the judge. You may want to tell the judge that you have arthritis or a heart condition, but the judge will want to know how your personal symptoms prevent you from working. Some individuals with arthritis or heart conditions, for example, can and do still work, so you’ll need to explain your symptoms in more detail. The judge wants to know about the severity of your symptoms and the level of the pain you’ve experienced.

You should be specific when describing your symptoms. If you feel pain related to your condition, you should explain the intensity, frequency, and duration of the pain. You should identify the location of the pain and explain whether the pain travels from one part of your body to another. Furthermore, you should describe your symptoms from one day to the next if you experience a range of symptoms. You may also need to explain how your pain starts, identify causes that make the pain worse, and tell the judge about treatments used in efforts to relieve your pain.

Do not shortchange yourself by minimizing the severity of your symptoms—the judge may find that you are not disabled if you downplay how badly you feel. You should testify precisely but also avoid exaggerating. Try to stay away from using absolute words such as “extreme,” “always,” or “never” to describe your condition. After your testimony, the judge may review the medical records and other evidence in your case. You may lose credibility with the judge if the medical documents do not support your testimony. Your New Jersey Social Security disability attorney can help to develop your testimony during the hearing.

If you have more questions about preparing your testimony, contact New Jersey disability attorney Maryjean Ellis.