Your hearing has finally been scheduled? Wonderful! What will you wear?
Does this seem an odd thing to ask? After a ridiculously long wait, you finally get your chance to present your case to a judge. There is a lot to think about: Social Security’s standard of disability, the 5 step sequential evaluation process, answering the judge’s questions, dealing with a vocational expert.
So, why am I asking you to think about what you are going to wear?
Because wearing the wrong thing can be one of the worst mistakes you can make, and one of the easiest to remedy. Here are some quick tips:
Do not wear your Sunday Best
I know this may seem counter intuitive; you are going to court after all. But remember, the standard of disability requires showing that you not able to work. If you dress up, you will look like you are ready to go straight to work. There is nothing wrong with that if you are able to go straight to work, but in that case you should not be applying for Social Security benefits.
Hearings are all about first impressions. Even though you may have waited years to see the judge, the hearing will only last 45, maybe 60 minutes. In other words, you will not be there long enough to make a second impression.
If you look like you are able to work, you may not get the chance to correct that misimpression. So all through the hearing, you may be explaining how your symptoms make your life miserable, but your clothes will be saying that you are just fine.
You will provide better answers if you are comfortable
On the day of the hearing, you will be nervous and you may not feel your best. You do not want to be in an outfit that makes it even more difficult to answer the judge’s questions. You want to be able to as comfortable as you can be, so you are not distracted by tight, pinching, too warm or too cold clothes.
Dress comfortably, not in a costume
Like anything, this advice can be taken too far. You are not trying prove your disability through your clothes. I have seen claimants in sweaters and I have seen them in sweats. Wear what you want. Just be comfortable.