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The rules require an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to schedule a hearing on at least 20 days notice to a Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claimant. The purpose of the rule is to ensure that the claimant has time to make final preparations for the hearing.
It is extremely difficult to make final preparations in less than 20 days. ALJ’s typically take one to two years to schedule a case for a hearing. If the claimant appears for a hearing and the treating doctors’ records and reports are more than a couple of months old, then the ALJ complains that the evidence is stale. Therefore, it makes no sense to make final preparations for a hearing until receiving the hearing notice.
I recently received a call from an ALJ’s assistant to schedule a hearing in 17 days. I immediately asked the ALJ to issue subpoenas for medical records that the claimant was unable to secure because he lacked the means to pay for them. After I submitted several letters, the subpoenas were issued just a couple of days before the hearing.
The day before the hearing, the ALJ’s assistant confirmed that while no records had been obtained in response to the subpoenas, the ALJ intended to proceed with the hearing. I warned that if the ALJ intended to deny the claim, then I would not waive my objection to the short notice because the denial would be based on an incomplete record. The ALJ said the claimant could return for a second hearing, but I advised that my client only left his home once or twice a month because of his disability. The ALJ then said the additional evidence could be sent to the medical expert after the hearing, but I objected since that would deprive me of the right to cross examine the medical expert. The ALJ adjourned the hearing.Previous Next
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