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 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

In the New England states, we are fortunate to receive 75-day notice of disability hearings. This is a carry-over of the DSI process which was implemented in SSA Region I. We also must submit evidence 5 business days ahead of the hearing. See 20 C.F.R. 405.331. In the rest of the country, you only receive 20 days notice of administrative law judge hearing, but you can bring new evidence to the hearing, and it must be considered by the ALJ.

Ideally, all your evidence is submitted well ahead of the hearing. This is one of the best practices of Social Security claimants' representatives. Nevertheless, sometimes there is an important piece of evidence, usually a medical record or a treating doctor's opinion, that could not be obtained earlier.

The regulation specifies 5 business days. Weekends and holidays are not counted. And when counting the 5 days, our judges at the Portland, Maine ODAR do not count the day of the hearing. As a result, the 5-day rule is really an 8-day rule. For a hearing that is held on a Thursday, your evidence must be received by Wednesday of the previous week. This is a trap for the unwary. 

Continue Reading In New England, the 5-day rule is really an 8-day rule