Tips for Speaking Before a Judge

I have to go before a judge for the second time and I need help explaining my depression, OCD and bipolar symptoms to a judge. I already have but my case appeared to be not strong enough due to the fact I am not very good at talking in front of people. I tend to get nervous and I didn't explain my situation in enough detail. I just want to be better prepared this time around as its difficult for me to talk about these issues I've lived with for so long. Any advice would be great!


By ladydragonfly13

June 8, 20090 found this helpful

Maybe your doctor would write a short statement explaining things. Or you could copy something about each from the internet and condense it. I suppose it would depend on what you're accused of (right?) as to whether they'll buy that as a justified excuse.

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

@Glenn'sMom, I don't think she's accused of anything; it sounds like a disability hearing. :)

That said, I have similar concentration problems because I have bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia (with "fibro fog"). What I do when I go to a doctor, etc., is sit at the computer and write down what I want to say, edit it down to be as concise as possible, then print it out and bring it with me. I then explain my problems with speaking, and say that I had someone "help me" write something that I'd like to read.

Make sure you say someone helped you out, because disability judges are pretty nasty; they think that if you can construct a sentence, you should get off your "lazy" rear end and get a job as the next Great American Novelist.

I first tried to apply for disability in 2003, and I still haven't been accepted. It's very, very hard to get on SSD/SSI when you have psychiatric problems, or ailments like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. And if you're under 50, as I am? Literally, forget it--they automatically weed out anybody under 50, because Social Security doesn't want to "waste" money on any one person for so many years.

I'm sorry to sound negative, but the system is really stacked against people like us, even when you have a lawyer. I'm just telling you this so you won't do as I did: Get your hopes up, work hard to make a good case for your lawyer to present, and then end up not just being rejected, but slanderously ridiculed by the judge.

It got to the point where I kept on appealing, just so I could remain on Medicaid (though some states don't even give you that). Make 'em pay one way or another--you paid into the system, you deserve it. So don't give up...just get what you can out of them.

Good luck!

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

We tried for 7 years to get my mom on Social Security. She had numerous back surgeries from a work related injury when she was in her 40's & was having some real memory issues. She was only 59 when she was finally accepted. The idiots would send her appointments for doctors and would not send me the dates (they do not acknowledge power of attorney) and would not undertand why she missed appointments. We finally hired an attorney that specializes in this sort of thing. She did not get paid until ss was received. It made us so mad but she was on the case for 2 months and my mother was accepted. The attorney took 1/2 of past amount owed. But without the attorney I don't think mom would have ever been accepted.

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you for the feed back and it is for disability I am not being accused of anything and I do have a lawyer I've been at this for 5 years with no end in sight. I've been before the judge once before and was denied and now gotta go again. It's frustrating cause I've always been a active person and now with 2 back surgeries gone wrong and being left in chronic pain and dealing with the ocd, depression and bipolar disorder. I'm just mystified at how little people care or understand, but thanks again!and I do have two disabiltys but mental disabilitys are still so tabu..........

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

We found that you have to use two disabiltiy the back injury was not enough.

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June 10, 20090 found this helpful

Do you have a regular lawyer or a lawyer that specializes in disability social security? That's what kind of lawyer you need. When I filed for disability I got turned down the first time but the second time I went before the judge I was accepted. It really depends what kind of lawyer you have. Good Luck and I hope this helps you.

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June 10, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with the poster who said to sit down and write out your complaints. I'd be careful about hiring a lawyer just to get disability - Their fee comes from what you collect. And in order to get a larger amount for themselves - they can string it out even longer. I was amazed that the lawyer took 50% of Notwrong's disability amount. He/She said they'd been trying for seven years? I imagine that had to have been quite a chunk for the lawyer.

I have a friend who recently got on disability. He'd hired a lawyer who'd been working on it for over a year with constant delays and rescheduling. He happened to socially meet a worker from the Social Security Office who, when she found out about his stroke, told him he'd been eligible since day one. And he was approved immediately. Unfortunately he'd already had the lawyer who then took 25% of the back pay. The lawyer had been stringing him along so that his own pay would be greater.

Please sit down and type out what it is you want to say and read it to the judge.

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June 10, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with Noella. My son just went through all this. The lawyer took over half. Write it down, have someone who is good at explaining things check it over and edit it and read it in court. Make copies, so you can give one to the judge and stay away from lawyers!

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June 10, 20090 found this helpful

Your lawyer "should " have a ton of evidence to put before the judge. All your doctors, hospital and surgical records. That will be the proof of your disablity, how it effects you is your part and you can have an advocate there to help you with that. Legal aid , socal secuity and a mental health care provider are places to look for this kind of help. When I went before the judge (the 2nd time) with my lawyer. She had done such a good job all he asked me was "How do you say your last name " It's a odd hyphenated last name. and "When did you last work?" He even told us right there that I would be qualifing and I would get three and a half years of back pay. I was sick before I went in and faint upon leaving.

I am Bipolor and yes this is still very misunderstood.

Good luck

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June 11, 20090 found this helpful

Ladydragonfly13: just keep confidence and always always take a deep breath before speaking! Seriously, that's the advice from me. Been through both disability hearings and won(for a spouse who couldn't articulate well) and, some support groups where the woman I remember talked about spinning out of control and her brain leaving her when in court and nervous.

She had a high stakes situation. What worked for her, and I remember this and try to use the lesson after all these years, is that taking just A MOMENT to collect your thoughts before you answer a question is hardly noticeable to others, even though we tend to feel pressured to hurry,and gives us a great opportunity to respond carefully, rather than (my tendency to want to hurry and speak without thinking) saying the first (usually defensive and self-judging and sometimes kinda stupid) thing that comes to mind. something that always happens to me when I feel on the spot.

Disability ALWAYS seems to say no at the get companies often do that too. Don't Please let that shake your confidence. Often all it takes is to simply trying again, but its very smart to be preparing

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