When you filed your initial claim and reconsideration for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) took on the responsibility of tracking down your medical records for review. That changes, however, once you're headed to a hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In the past, the SSA only gave claimants a 20-day notice prior to their hearing with the ALJ. That meant that the only feasible way to make sure that the ALJ was able to review your updated medical records was to bring them with you to the hearing itself.
That has all changed. If you're anticipating a hearing with an ALJ for your Social Security Disability claim any time soon, here's what you need to know:
Hearing Notices Have Been Extended
Now, the ALJ's office sends claimants notice of their hearing date at least 75 days in advance. That gives each claimant plenty of time (in theory) to obtain updated medical records. You're now expected to submit all new medical records to the ALJ's office at least five business days in advance of your hearing (not counting federal holidays or weekends). That way, the ALJ has time to review the evidence you submitted prior to the actual hearing.
You May Still Run Into Problems Providing Evidence
Unfortunately, you can still run into problems obtaining updated medical records, especially if you have seen a number of doctors and been hospitalized a number of times since you submitted your request for a hearing. Be aware that it can take some medical facilities and doctors a month (or longer) to process a request for medical records. You have no time to wait once you get your hearing date, so make your request for the records as quickly as possible.
You may also run into another problem when trying to get your records: money. Most hospitals and doctor's offices won't provide the records for free and the fees for them may be more than you can afford. If this is true, make sure that your Social Security lawyer is aware of the issue. An attorney can often get the records for you even if you cannot.
You May Be Entitled To A "Good Cause" Exception
Sometimes, things happen and you can't get your newest medical records in time to meet SSA's 5-day rule. If that happens, you'll need to ask the ALJ for a "good cause" exception. For example, imagine that you were in the hospital again for your asthma just a week before the hearing. This sort of situation may mean that it is simply not possible to get the medical records to the ALJ in time. In a situation like that, bring everything you have with you to the hearing anyway and explain what happened.
For more information about how to prepare for your Social Security Disability hearing, talk to a Social Security law firm today.Share
10 July 2019
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