Workers' Compensation

Gearing Up for a Hearing With Non-English-Speaking Clients

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Allison Eberle-Lindemuth
Allison Eberle-Lindemuth

Judges will often have basic questions asked and answered in English, then proceed to use the translator for more complicated concepts. Importantly, this should only be done when a client has enough working English to disqualify him or her from the advantages of the medical vocational guidelines discussed below. Additionally, make sure the client knows that he or she should only answer questions after the translator has posed them.

Fortunately, some rules can be highly advantageous for clients unable to communicate in English; notably, the medical vocational guidelines, often referred to as the "grids" in disability, are more favorable to these clients. For instance, they may be able to "grid out" or be found disabled at an earlier age. Exceptions can apply, however. While applying the medical vocational guidelines can be formulaic, this is often the path to a successful disability claim.

Overall, these suggestions can be invaluable in many cases to establishing a client's credibility. Helping clients overcome any disadvantages at the earliest possible date will help ensure more successful claims and more appreciative clients. 

Allison Eberle-Lindemuth is an associate at Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano. She focuses her practice exclusively on Social Security disability.

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