Starting April 20, 2015, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will require disability claimants to submit any written evidence no later than five business days before the date of their scheduled hearing. It also requires representatives to submit all known evidence that relates to whether the person is disabled – whether it is supportive of disability or not.
These changes will have very little effect on the policies of our law firm. First, we have always been known as leaders in getting evidence submitted on a timely basis. The rule is directed at lawyers and representatives who habitually demand that the record be held open post hearing for the submission of additional evidence, or appear at the hearing with evidence that the judge had not had a chance to review.
Judges like to review your files before your hearing. On the day of your hearing, they simply want to hear from you: the disabled claimant. Since late submitted evidence has never been an issue with our office, we do not expect the change to have an impact on our operating procedures.
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Also, the rule which requires representatives to submit what is often referred to as “adverse evidence,” that is, evidence which is unsupportive of disability, will not change our procedures. Administrative hearings in this Office of Disability Adjudication and Review are non-adversarial.
We have always considered ourselves to be under an ethical duty to submit evidence which is damaging to the claims. This includes opinion evidence from treating doctors that does not say what we would have hoped. Generally speaking, we can argue over the damaging evidence. The submission of damaging evidence enhances the credibility of the law firm, and displays self-confidence in the merits of the claim.
When you have a doctor visit in the days immediately before the hearing, and the evidence comes in within five days of the hearing, we plan to submit the evidence, in spite of the five-day rule. We do not expect this to be a serious problem with any judge. They want all of the probative evidence they can get.
We do advise our clients to keep us posted on any new medical developments, however, so that we can act on a timely basis.
If you need help with your claim for Social Security Disability, contact us today.