What should I wear to my disability hearing?

Wear? Disability hearingHave a Social Security Disability hearing coming up? Want to know what to expect? Read this and other articles in our “Help! I have a Disability Hearing!” series.

You are not alone!!

How should I dress for my Social Security disability hearing? Many claimants have this question.

Some general advice is provided below; however, please consult your attorney, or local hearing office, to find out what the expectations are in your area, and for your particular judge.

Sunday Best?

If you attend church regularly, you might feel most comfortable wearing the same type of clothes that you would wear to church. Many people like to dress up a little. Perhaps you’d like to wear a dress, or a polo shirt and some slacks.

However, this is not necessary. If you don’t have clothes like this, it is okay. You don’t need to dress up, if it just doesn’t work for you to do so.

Cannot Manage Buttons or Dress Shoes?

Although Social Security Disability hearings are to be taken very seriously, it is okay to dress casually. Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) understand that claimants often have a hard time managing buttons, wearing restrictive clothing, or walking in dress shoes. These impairments can make it hard to dress up in your Sunday best.

Can’t Afford Nice Clothes?

Many disability claimants have been unable to work for so long, that they just can’t afford to buy nice clothes to wear for the hearing! If this is your situation, just wear the best that you have. There is nothing wrong with a pair of jeans and a nice T-shirt.

What to Avoid:

It is always best to avoid clothes that are ripped, stained, too tight, or too revealing. It is also smart to avoid t-shirts with beer advertisements or other questionable content. If in doubt, ask your lawyer!


What if the only thing you can get into is a pair of sweats and an oversized T-shirt? Sometimes wearing anything else just hurts! If this is your situation, then wear your sweats. That is fine.

However, if this is not your situation – try to find a pair of jeans and nice t-shirt.

Comfort is Key!

Wear something that you will be comfortable in. Sitting in a hearing for 40 minutes is hard enough without adding uncomfortable clothes to the situation. Besides, it helps the judge to take you seriously if you say you can’t do buttons and can’t tie shoelaces , and then actually wear clothing that doesn’t have buttons or shoelaces. On the other hand, if you have a family member who can help you with your buttons or shoelaces, no problem! We will just mention this fact at the hearing.

Can’t Clean your own Clothes?

While everyone appreciates clean clothes, what if your disability keeps you from being able to take care of your self and your personal hygiene? In this situation, it is understandable that your clothing may be dirty. Do the best you can with what you have.

So, to make a long story short: dress as nicely as you can, while still being comfortable. Comfort is important.

If you are just not sure about your clothing choices, ask your disability attorney for his or her opinion. If you finally have a hearing scheduled but don’t have an attorney, now is the time to get one!  Do NOT wait until you get denied, again.

More articles in the “Help! I have a Disability Hearing!” series:

More articles coming soon…

If we have not answered your questions about what to expect at your disability hearing, please keep checking back! Or, leave your question in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Best wishes on your upcoming hearing!

Originally published: September 12, 2016

 Last updated: January 17, 2018 at 8:07 am

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