What should you wear to a disability hearing?
The importance of your disability hearing is immeasurable with regard to the potential effect it has on your life. Generally, it can take months or even years to get your Social Security Disability hearing. What I am saying is you will want to provide the best impression you can at your disability hearing.
While Social Security Disability hearings are considered more informal than normal hearings, you will still be appearing before a judge during documented case proceedings. You should dress accordingly. I would not say you have to wear formal dress wear, but casual wear in good condition. I am sure the judge understands that the wait for a disability hearing often involves financial hardship; so do not go out and buy new clothes if you do not have the finances.
You may, in order to appear respectful of the setting and circumstances, wish to avoid wearing garments with slogans or sayings. A shirt with buttons and a normal collar, even if not a long sleeve, may help to convey signs of respect.
The obvious: Your clothes should be clean and as wrinkle free as possible. Your shoes should be free of mud or dirt, as it takes very little to make sure they are clean.
Additionally, as more than one disability representative has noted, keep in mind that if an individual appears at a hearing looking too rough or sloppy, the judge may form the opinion that they are attempting to manipulation perceptions.
There are a couple of other mentionable cautions with respect to being in a courtroom. You should make sure your cell phone is off during your hearing; there is nothing more potentially annoying to a judge than a cell phone ringing.
Also, do not bring in food items or chew gum during your hearing, unless you have a medical reason. For example, a person filing for disability with diabetes may need to have something with sugar to raise their blood sugar in an emergency.
First impressions are important! It may cause the judge to see you in a less favorable light if you show no respect for the fact you are in a hearing room.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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