Hearings, Evidence and the 5-day Rule

Parmele Law FirmSocial Security

Not very long ago the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) issued a new rule regarding submitting written evidence to the court for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) hearings.

Before this rule, applicants (through their counsel) were allowed to submit evidence as soon as possible and preferably at least one week before the hearing. However, there was no official rule or regulation regarding when evidence was submitted.

All that changed when the SSA’s new “5-day rule” became effective on May 1, 2017.

What it is.

The 5-day rule requires that all written evidence be submitted to the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) at least 5 business days before the date of the hearing.

This includes all medical evidence and all evidence from third parties, all evidence of ability to work, and all work history evidence. Everything has to be to the judge at least 5 business days before the hearing.

The new rule allows a disability attorney or representative to notify the court 5 days before the hearing if there are records that cannot be submitted 5 days before the hearing along with a description of what attempts have been made to obtain it.

When there are records that cannot be submitted 5 days before the hearing (for the reasons detailed in the notification) the ALJ can use his or her discretion to hold the record open after the hearing to obtain those records.

If you miss the deadline for notifying the judge about records that cannot be submitted 5 days before the hearing, to have the documents considered, you will need to show that at least one of the following circumstances applies to your case:

  • The actions of SSA misled you
  • You had a physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitation that prevented you from submitting the evidence earlier
  • Some other unusual, unexpected, or unavoidable circumstance beyond your control prevented you from submitting the evidence earlier

The rule’s purpose was to provide a level of uniformity in the manner and timing of the submission of evidence to ALJs across the country. Whether the rule has achieved this purpose is not clear.

What is clear is that every applicant must be diligent about getting the records he or she needs for his case as soon as possible so that they can be submitted to the ALJ at least 5 days before the hearing.

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If you want to know more about disability benefits, or if you have been denied benefits, contact us. We have helped many people get benefits and we can help you, too. We have offices throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. We have offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, too. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Contact us today or call us at 855-727-8625 to set up your free appointment.