Who Will Be in the Hearing Room?

Posted on Posted in Social Security Disability

A question that some Denver Social Security attorneys are asked by their clients is who will be present at their Social Security disability hearing. Generally, the hearing is a private one. Unless the claimant and the administrative law judge (ALJ) have given permission for observers to attend, the only people present will be the ALJ, the judge’s assistant who is recording the hearing, the claimant, the claimant’s attorney, and any relevant witnesses.

It Varies From Judge to Judge

When the claimant is testifying, the ALJ has broad authority to determine who can remain in the hearing room. For example, some ALJs will require witnesses to wait in the waiting area outside of the hearing room until it is their turn to testify. ALJs who do this reason that witnesses not exposed to the testimony of others may have more trustworthiness. On the other hand, some ALJs still allow witnesses to stay in the hearing room while the claimant is testifying. Still, some ALJs employ the practice of having all the witnesses present in the hearing room, but then require each witness to leave after the opening statement and procedural matters.

Denver Social Security attorneys may also assist their client in excluding a witness when it is their client’s time to testify. It is not uncommon for certain witnesses to be removed from the hearing room during the claimant’s testimony. If a claimant asks that a particular witness not be present, the ALJ will typically accommodate the claimant’s request.

Claimants May Be Excluded From Parts of Hearing

In some cases, the claimant themselves may be removed from the hearing room. This will happen in mental disability cases during the testimony of the claimant’s friends or family. The reason behind excluding a claimant with a mental impairment is that they may become emotionally distressed or angry when their attorney has to ask family members or friends personal questions about the claimant in order to shed light on the claimant’s disability.

Witnesses who aren’t worried about the claimant’s reaction to their testimony will usually provide more candid and reliable testimony because they tend to be more relaxed.

If you would like to talk to a knowledgeable and experienced Denver Social Security attorney, please call the law office of John Cimino to schedule a consultation.