Effective January 17, 2017 the Social Security Administration issued a Final Rule bringing several important and significant changes to the way disability claims are decided at the hearing and Appeals Council levels.  While the rule became effective on January 17, 2017, the rule itself directs that compliance is not required until May 1, 2017.

 We recently received a mass-mailer from the Social Security Administration on each of our pending disability cases.  The mass-mailer provides a quick reference to the new rules which will be enforced beginning May 1, 2017. 

The most noteworthy sections of the new rule include:

  • Hearing notices will be provided to disability claimants and their representatives at least 75 days before their hearing (an increase from the 20 days provided in the past);
  • Hearing notices will state the issues to be decided by your Judge.  If you disagree with the list of issues to be decided an objection must be filed in writing within 5 business days prior to your hearing. ;
  • At least 5 business days prior to your hearing all evidence, statements, and requests in support of disability must be submitted to the Judge.  This includes medical records, medical reports, and functional capacity statements.  If these items are not received at least 5 business days before hearing, the Judge may exclude or decline to consider any late evidence unless you have good cause for your delay.
  • Requests for subpoenas for documents and/or witnesses to testify at your hearing must be requested at least 10 business days before hearing.

Social Security Judges are duty-bound to enforce these new rules and time limitations beginning on May 1, 2017.  Although people seeking disability benefits will now receive greater advanced notice prior to their hearing, the past practice of submitting evidence at the last minute or even post-hearing is being eliminated.  It is important that your disability case be adequately and timely prepared in advance of for your hearing in order to protect your important legal rights and options.

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