If there is new evidence before the hearing, can the disability judge make a decision without a hearing?

Yes, a decision can be made "on the record" which eliminates the need for an actual hearing to be held. This sometimes happens as the result of a request that was made by the claimant or their representative.

In some cases, the judge will issue an on the record decision without any prompting (when this occurs, the judge has most likely discovered that the disability examiner who worked on the case made a ridiculous error). Or it may be that the claimant's medical condition has gotten much worse and recent medical records obtained by the disability lawyer verify this.

How does a request for an on the record decision get made? If your case is being represented by a disability lawyer or representative, they can send a request to the director of the hearing office that has your case for an "on the record review" of the claim. If the judge reviews the case, it may potentially be approved, and if it is not then the hearing will still be scheduled.

If you are not represented, in all candor, I think it would be unlikely that you could send a credible request for such a review since these requests are predicated on a knowledge of how disability claims are decided. So, this is a good example of how having someone represent a claim, especially at the hearing level, can be beneficial.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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