At the recent NOSSCR Conference, I attended an excellent presentation by Ohio disability attorney Scott F. Smith on winning cases for Social Security disability. One of the topics covered was a pre-hearing brief for the administrative law judge. Mr. Smith listed several goals accomplished by writing a brief:
Drafting a brief is an endeavor that I believe is essential to setting up a winning case. It helps accomplish several goals:
1. it allows you to go through the evidence in a goal oriented manner so you know what’s in the file;
2. it allows you to organize the evidence in a clear and concise manner to emphasize the strengths and deal with the weaknesses of your case;
3. it allows you a roadmap to have with you in a hearing so that you do not lose your way of what is important;
4. it provides the judge evidence that you have actually reviewed your file before the hearing;
5. it also sets up your arguments and points the judge in the direction for which you want them to ultimately go;
6. it provides a record so that if unsuccessful at the hearing, you can show the Appeals Council exactly what the arguments were and what the judge missed.
Reasons 1 through 3 are particularly important. A hearing brief is essential. Not yet convinced? Here are ten reasons to write a hearing brief.
The hearing brief is subject to the five-day rule, so get it in early. The earlier the better, so it is in the file as the judge first reviews the claim.