The Social Security regulations allow for a prehearing conference in a Social Security disability case. A prehearing conference may be at the request of the administrative law judge, or at the request of the claimant's attorney. See 20 C.F.R. 405.330.
Now, by a prehearing conference, I do not mean a quick meeting with the judge a few minutes before the hearing. The regulation envisions something more formal, further in advance of the disability hearing.
Pretrial conferences happen all the time in civil litigation. They are useful to narrow the issues for trial and to promote settlement. But I have never had a prehearing conference in a Social Security disability claim. That is about to change.
I have three claims scheduled with one particular administrative law judge in June and July. I am going to ask for a prehearing conference in each. I expect they will be held together, one right after the other.
Each of these cases has something unusual and complicated. A pretrial conference will allow me to discuss the complicated aspect of each claim with the judge in advance of the hearing. This will help my client (hopefully), and is also a courtesy to the judge. Clarifying the issues in advance of the disability hearing will simplify both 1) the judge's preparation for the hearing and 2) the hearing itself.
In addition to saving time for the judge, a prehearing conference should help to differentiate the claim. While a hearing memorandum can also accomplish this, I think a prehearing conference is even better.