Dress and Attire
Social Security disability hearings are less formal than other legal proceedings. The hearings are held in a small room with at most a handful of people in the room. Still, it’s important that you wear proper attire to show respect for the judge and the administrative process.
You should not wear shorts, sandals, t-shirts, or revealing clothing. Avoid wearing bright colors. Cover any visible tattoos with a long-sleeve shirt or collar. Do not wear any makeup or jewelry other than a wedding ring. Your medical conditions might prevent you from wearing certain types of clothing such as closed-toe shoes. If so, wear clothing that doesn’t cause you pain or aggravate your condition.
Addressing the Judge
Throughout your entire hearing address the judge as “sir” or “ma’am”. Of course, you should be polite and respectful, but this can be difficult with some judges. They might ask questions or make statements that are aggressive or even insulting. Just like every group of people there are some ill mannered people among the judges. Your attorney should prepare you in advance if you are facing a judge with a bad temper. Regardless of how the judge acts it is crucial that you continue to be professional and respectful. For better or worse the judge has your case in his or her hands, so you don’t want to make a bad impression.
Don’t take notes or documents into the hearing room with you unless you have no attorney. Just testify to the best of your memory. If you don’t know the answer to a question you are asked just state “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. Give answers that are short and to the point. Stick to the subject of the question and don’t wander off into other matters.
Experts might be present at your hearing to testify about the medical or work issues involved in your case. If you want to say something in response to an expert’s testimony it’s best to whisper it to your attorney rather than stating it out loud and interrupting the hearing. Your attorney will have an opportunity to cross examine the expert after the judge finishes his or her questions.