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Witness Letters for Your Social Security Disability Hearing
If you have been recently denied disability benefits, then there’s a good chance you’re going through the appeals process. While appealing a decision does often result in an applicant finally being approved, it is by no means a sure thing. Because of this, it’s important to have all of the information and documentation available. One type of documentation that is frequently overlooked, but can make a big difference in a case, is the witness letter.
What is a Witness Letter?
In the simplest of terms, a witness letter is a written statement by a friend, family member, coworker or other individual who can provide a first-hand account of how your injury or disability has affected you and your life. While not being a “medical” opinion, this document can help to shed light on the real consequences of your physical condition. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to inject a little humanity into what can otherwise be a cold, calculating decision, and a witness letter can do just that.
What Should Be Included in a Witness Letter for a Social Security Disability Hearing?
Since a witness letter is just a letter from a layman’s perspective, it’s not necessary to include medical jargon or information. Still, an effective witness letter does contain certain elements:
– An Account of How the Witness Knows You
After the initial greeting, the letter should state the witness’s relationship to you. This is important because the judge will want to know how you know each other, and what sort of information this person is able to provide — and not provide. A spouse, for example, might be able to talk about how you have changed at home, but probably won’t be able to give much insight into what you can or can’t do at work.
– A Detailed Description of Life Before and After the Onset of the Disability
This is important: the witness HAS to talk about what life was like before the injury or disability. Your habits and routines, your mental state, your physical activity: anything that is relevant and can show a picture of a capable and healthy individual.
Then, the letter needs to use that information to contrast what life is like now. How have you changed? What could you do before, that you can’t now? How has your quality of life diminished?
– A Story that Sticks to the Facts
Friends will try to help your case by embellishing their stories. Encourage them not to — your case can’t be helped by information that is deemed later to be false.
– A List of Ways to Contact the Witness
Finally, the letter should include contact information, such as a phone number or email, in case the judge wants to contact the witness later for a follow-up.
If you have friends or coworkers who can help you with your case, then don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Having several witness letters for your Social Security Disability hearing might just be the information the SSA needs to rule in your favor.