A Lay Witness Should Avoid Making Conclusions and Emphasizing Observations
Lay testimony that emphasizes the observations of the lay witness and minimizes his or her conclusions constitutes the best possible testimony.
For instance, if a lay witness testifies that you have epilepsy or emphysema, he or she is simply restating something somebody else has said and essentially adds nothing to your disability case, especially if other or further evidence shows that statement to be wrong. Instead, the lay witness should describe how their normal life is effected by this disability.
Likewise, testimonies from a lay witness stating you are “permanently disabled,” “totally disabled,” or simply “disabled” is not helpful. The Social Security Act does not premise disability on total or permanent disability and a lay witness who uses these terms may muddy your presentation. This is particularly pertinent if the whole of the evidence demonstrates you are indeed disabled but your disability is neither permanent nor total.
A Lay Witness Will be Prepared but not Rehearsed
Before the hearing your lawyer will interview witnesses in order to select those who will be most beneficial, and inform those chosen how to testify most effectively.
However, the witnesses will not be rehearsed by your lawyer since testimony that has been rehearsed will almost always appear to be so and consequently given less weight. Testimony that has been rehearsed usually appears stilted and trite and loaded with unnecessary details. Quite often it overlooks productive or crucial information that might show up in spontaneous testimony.
A Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney will know what you need from lay witnesses in your hearing. Contact disability attorney John Fagan at 904-278-1000 to schedule a free consultation.