The hearing offices have senior staff attorneys, called attorney advisors, who review claims prior to hearing for possible on the record decisions. If an on the record (OTR) decision is appropriate, they draft a fully favorable decision. If an OTR is not appropiate, they complete an "Attorney Advisor Worksheet," and the claim goes back to its place in line for an eventual hearing.
As a claimant representative, you don't get to see that attorney advisor worksheet. So if there is a perceived flaw in the claim, you can't find out what it is, so that you can address it prior to the hearing.
I had a recent hearing for a claim that received an OTR review by an attorney advisor months prior to the hearing. For the first time, I got to see the attorney advisor worksheet. It was part of the electronic disability claim file on the hearing CD, but was not numbered as an exhibit. It was in a section of the disability claim file marked "Private." The worksheet contained a helpful summary and analysis of the claim, and stated why a hearing was necessary.
I realized later that the only reason that I had the worksheet on my CD is that the receptionist had given me the ALJ's copy of the hearing CD by mistake. The worksheet is not part of the claim file normally available to the claimant or the representative.
In my view, the attorney advisor worksheet should be available to the claimant's attorney. We see other internal claim evaluations, such as the medical-vocational analysis from DDS. Why not the attorney advisor worksheet from the hearing office? It would help us to better prepare our claims for hearing, and it might lead to more on the record decisions, which would help to preserve scarce ALJ resources.