How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Presenting evidence at a Social Security Disability or SSI hearing

You can present evidence in the form of medical records or a statement from a physician at a disability hearing. However, this is not just an option, it is a necessity. This is because, while at the first two levels of the disability evaluation system a disability examiner will have the full responsibility of obtaining the records from your treatments sources...when your claim gets to the hearing level, the social security administration (SSA) will not do any further evidenciary development on your case.

Claimants who appear at social security hearings unrepresented may be very surprised to learn that the very last time that medical records were gathered for their claim was when their reconsideration appeal was decided (the reconsideration appeal takes place AFTER the disability application has been denied, and BEFORE a disability hearing is requested). This will mean in all cases that there will be no current medical records in the claimant's social security file, thus making the likelihood of achieving an approval very low (and nearly impossible).

Individuals who have requested a disability hearing before a federal administrative law judge need to make sure that by the time their hearing takes place there are current medical records in the file. This means that, in addition to the older records (which can prove onset, i.e. how far back the disabling condition existed), there should also be records that are not older than 60 days in the file.

This is because in order for an individual to receive a Social Security Disability or SSI award, there must be evidence available to the adjudicator (decision-maker) that proves that they currently meet the SSA guidelines and criteria for receiving disability benefits.

Claimants who are not represented at the time of their hearing should attempt to obtain updated medical records sometime before their hearing takes place. And once they have obtained those records, they should send copies (claimants should always keep original documents in case mailed documents are lost) of those records to the hearing office so they can be added to the case file.

The problem with this, however, is timing when to request the medical records. Gathering medical records too soon will mean that they, too, may be outdated by the time a hearing occurs. And requesting them too late may mean that they not have arrived at the time the hearing occurs.

Typically, disability lawyers will use a series of notifications from the hearing office as "signals" for when requests for medical records should be sent out. Requests for medical records "can" be sent out when the notice of hearing (a notice that states when and where the hearing will take place and with which judge) has been received from the hearing office.

However, this, too, can pose a problem since social security hearing offices are not required to send hearing notices any sooner than 20 days before the hearing--and 20 days is very often not enough time to send a request for medical records to a doctor or hospital and realistically expect to receive records back.

For this reason, many disability lawyers actually send their requests for medical records sooner than this, choosing to send out requests for medical records when the ODAR (office of disability adjudication and review, otherwise known as the hearing office) has compiled the exhibit list and then mailed a copy of this to the disability lawyer handling the claim.

What is the exhibit list? It is a listing of all the exhibits that may play a role in the hearing and that may potentially be referred to. Exhibits include all the medical evidence on file, but also copies of the claimant's initial application, reconsideration appeal, and any questionaires that the claimant completed (such as the work activity questionaire and the activities of daily living questionaire).

When the exhibit list has been received, this is a signal that the timing is right to request medical records from the claimant's doctors--because the hearing will most likely be scheduled in the near future.

Claimants not only have the right to present medical evidence at a hearing, they have the responsibility of doing this (either by themselves or through their disability representation)...if they hope to have any chance of winning Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
What happens when you go to a Social Security Disability hearing?
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Presenting evidence at a Social Security Disability or SSI hearing
How Long Does It Take To Get The Results Of A Disability Hearing?
Do Most People Have To Go To A Disability Hearing in order to Get Approved For Disability?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?
Social Security Disability Hearings - What is the ALJ
Qualifying for disability in Missouri

Will I qualify for disability in Missouri?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.