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What Can Lay Witnesses Testify About at Your Ocala Social Security Disability Hearing?

  • Published: August 27, 2012

Your Ocala Social Security disability lawyer may present testimony from lay witnesses (that is, witnesses who are not experts) at your Social Security disability hearing. Because of the importance of this testimony, your lawyer may ask your family members, friends, former co-workers or neighbors to testify about your impairment.  These lay witnesses may be able to offer helpful testimony on the following issues:

Your Past Relevant Work

The Social Security Administration regulations provide that your Ocala Social Security disability attorney can, with your permission, present testimony “from your employer or other person who knows about your work, such as a member of your family or a co-worker” regarding your past relevant work. This testimony can be significant if you need to prove that you are no longer able to perform your past relevant work (generally the easiest job that you had in the past 15 years) in order to be entitled to disability benefits.

Determining the Onset Date of Your Disability

In some disability cases, no medical evidence exists that can establish when the claimant first became disabled. If this is your situation, your Ocala Social Security disability attorney can present testimony by family members, friends or former co-workers regarding the onset date of your disability. The onset date is significant because your Ocala Social Security disability benefits will begin the latter of 12 months prior to your application date or 5 full months after your onset date.

Your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Assessment

In assessing how much exertion you are capable of (your RFC), the Social Security Administration is required to consider descriptions and observations of your limitations provided by you, your family, neighbors, friends, or other persons. The RFC assessment will be “based upon consideration of all relevant evidence in the case record, including medical evidence and relevant nonmedical evidence, such as observations of lay witnesses of an individual’s apparent symptomatology.”

Mental Impairments

 If you have a mental impairment, lay witness testimony can be important in describing your daily activities, ability to function socially, attentiveness, perseverance or pace, and capacity to handle stress and anxiety.

Pain and Other Symptoms

The Social Security Administration will consider observations of lay witnesses, in addition to objective medical evidence, in evaluating your pain and other symptoms. The Social Security Administration recognizes family and friends as reliable sources of information about a number of important issues such as:

  • Your daily activities.
  • Your symptoms and what makes them better and worse.
  • Your functional limitations.
  • Your prior work record and efforts to work.
  • Your medical history.
  • Your response to treatment.
  • The effectiveness of medication.
  • Your use of home remedies.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)

If you suffer from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Social Security rulings recognize lay witnesses as a source of information about your day-to-day functioning. The rulings unambiguously permit evidence from neighbors, friends, relatives, clergy, past employers, rehabilitation counselors or teachers regarding your impairment, capacity to function on a day-to-day basis and over a period of time.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Similarly, if you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, the Social Security rulings detail that observation and testimony from neighbors, friends, relatives, or clergy, as well as past employers, rehabilitation counselors and teachers, may be very valuable in assessing your ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

If you are interested in applying for Social Security disability benefits or if you have already applied and your claim has been denied, Ocala Social Security disability lawyer CJ Henry would like to help.  Contact her by calling (352) 304-5300 or complete the form on this page.  Your initial consultation is free.

Claudeth Henry

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