Welcome! This site is written for Social Security disability claimants, for their legal representatives, and for the network of people involved in the Social Security disability claim process. I hope you find it helpful.
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The "secret ALJ" policy implemented in late 2011 has come to an end. For the past year and a half or so, the particular administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to your disability case was not disclosed prior to the day of the hearing. It was a terrible policy, and now the policy has changed.


I see on the record decisions for Social Security disability claims in two different circumstances.

An "on the record" (OTR) decision refers to Social Security disability and SSI claims pending at the hearing level at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) that are granted on the record prior to a hearing. An on the record decision can

The onset date is the beginning of your Social Security disability claim. It is the date when your impairments prevented you from working at the level of substantial gainful activity.

In our current climate for Social Security disability claims, onset dates have been under pressure from both DDS and from administrative law judges. Even very

It has been about a year since the SSA instituted a policy of not disclosing in advance of the hearing the identity of the administrative law judge assigned to a particular disability claim. The policy was aimed, it appears, at those declining video hearings with judges with a poor history of granting disability claims (an

The hearing with a Social Security administrative law judge is critically important, because it is the only time that you are in the same room with the person deciding your claim for disability benefits.

The primary purpose of the hearing is to take your testimony. Many clients do not realize this, and have an expectation that the

Just prior to a recent hearing for a Social Security disability claim, the administrative law judge told me his specific concerns about the case. I wish that would happen before every hearing.

In this particular claim, there was a disparity between the objective testing of the claimant's vision in the doctor's office and the real-life

Most disability claims are decided on a medical-vocational basis. Sometimes too little attention is paid to the vocational side of the analysis.

I had hearing recently that illustrated the importance of developing the vocational evidence for a disability claim. My client's sole past relevant work was a public insurance adjuster, who is a person hired by individuals to document property damage claims, and then submit the claims to insurance companies. His application for Social Security disability benefits had been denied by DDS on the theory that his "light" residual functional capacity (RFC) would allow performance of his past work as generally performed.

Whenever a claim is denied by DDS with a determination that past work can be done "as generally performed," that should raise a big red flag for the disability lawyer. 

Continue Reading Don’t Forget the Vocational Evidence

With June well behind us, we are halfway through the calendar year and three-quarters through the Fiscal Year for Social Security, which ends September 30th. It is a good time for a look around, to see where we are with Social Security disability claims in the current political and economic climate.

I started the year