It frequently helps to know the staff attorneys at the Social Security hearing offices. They can provide invaluable assistance regarding both procedural and substantive matters. I had a phone call today that illustrates how staff attorneys can help on both matters.
I called a staff attorney at the Jericho hearing office regarding an administrative remand of a Social Security Disability (“SSD”) case that had been returned to the hearing office. I wanted to learn what documentation existed from the State agency’s apparently second unfavorable decision. The staff attorney did not know, but referred me to a senior staff attorney for additional information. However, before transferring me, the staff attorney wanted to discuss a Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) case.
Last week, an Administrative Law Judge’s assistant called me to discuss avoiding a hearing on the SSI case by agreeing to accept a September 2007 onset date, which was when the claimant started treating with a neurologist. I stated that I had requested an on-the-record (“OTR”) request for a March 2007 onset, which was the onset date provided by the claimant’s pain management doctor. The staff attorney stated that when he reviewed the file, he came up with an April 2007 onset, and that the September 2007 onset came from another staff attorney who conducted a quick review prior to next week’s hearing. After a brief discussion, and review of the relevant report, the staff attorney said that he would approve the OTR, and prepare a fully favorable decision with a March 2007 onset date. Therefore, I was able to avoid next week’s hearing.
As for the SSD case, the senior staff attorney explained that the State agency has a fairly high approval rate for the new administrative remand program, and that my case may have been sent back for a hearing because only a partially favorable decision could have been made. The senior staff attorney said that, for example, a partially favorable decision could only be made if there was a request to reopen another application. It just so happens that the State agency commented that it was unable to locate the claimant’s prior application, which I asked be reopened. Thus, it is likely that the State agency sent the case back for a hearing only because it was unable to evaluate the claimant’s request to reopen his prior application, which would explain why I found no adverse review in the file.Previous Next
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