How to Dress for
Your Social Security Hearing
Although much has been written about what happens at a Social Security disability hearing, and what questions you might be asked, but little has been said about the practical side of your Social Security claim - such as what you should wear at your hearing, where you will sit or stand and who will be there.
What to Wear
Unlike court hearings in state or federal court, Social Security hearings are generally informal proceedings. Social Security courtrooms are small and private - unlike most other court proceedings, your Social Security case is not open to the public.
While informal, you should show your respect to the administrative law judge and wear nice clothes. Avoid blue jeans and t-shirts. Avoid shorts and tank tops. For men, a clean pair of khakis or dark colored pants and a clean buttoned short are appropriate.
For women, an understated dress or pants suit is fine. You want to be comfortable but do not forget that you are appearing in a court.
Formal dress clothes are not necessary and may actually send the wrong message.
Where You Will Sit
During Your Disability Hearing
In most hearings, you and your lawyer will be seated around a small conference table. If the judge has asked a medical expert or a vocational expert to appear, you may be sharing your conference table with two or three other people.
Your hearing will be electronically recorded with a microphone, so make sure to speak up and avoid answers like “un huh” or “mmmm.” Stick to “yes” or “no” when answering a yes or no question.
At the beginning of the hearing, you will be asked to swear to tell the truth. If you object to being sworn, tell the judge or the judge’s assistant before the hearing.
During the course of hearing, you may discover that you need to stand up and move around. Usually, your judge will tell you in advance that this is okay, but if not, make sure to ask permission before standing up and moving around.
Social Security hearings generally last about an hour, so do not expect a bathroom or smoking break.
Should You Take Medicine Prior to Your Hearing?
As a general rule you should follow your normal routine on the day of the hearing. If, however, your hearing is at 10am and you normally take a strong pain killer at 9:30, you may not want to take any medicine that impairs your thoughts or speech.