SSA Wises Up with 75-Day Hearing Notices

Pre-hearing submission of medical evidence has often been a bane for SSDI practitioners. Until recently, Social Security hearings could legally be scheduled a mere twenty days in advance. This rarely left time for attorneys to scramble to obtain medical records; providers legally have thirty days to comply with a valid request for medical records, and many still fail to do so. The result was often disastrous; we either had to move to leave the administrative record open, which irritates ALJs and causes undue delay to claimants, or blindside an ALJ with a stack of new evidence at the hearing.

Fortunately, SSA has wised up to this predicament. In December 2016, it adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-12-16/pdf/2016-30103.pdf). Entitled "Ensuring Program Uniformity at the Hearing and Appeals Council Levels of the Administrative Review Process", the new rule's effect is to require seventy-five days written notice before hearings. Incidentally, it also imposes a requirement that all medical evidence be submitted five days before the hearing - a reasonable request, given the new concession. This system has already been in place in SSA's Boston region, where it has been successful. I believe that the new rule is long overdue, and will result in less delay and more administrative efficiency. 

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