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Illinois disability hearing attorney physician opinionIn Social Security disability cases, agency officials will look at two types of medical evidence: The information provided by an applicant’s own treating physicians, and testimony from outside reviewers and consultative examiners, who typically look at an applicant’s medical records but do not necessarily examine them in person. When one’s own doctor's medical opinions are supported by appropriate treatment records, Social Security is expected to afford such views substantial weight, even if they conflict with the opinions of the outside consultants.

Magistrate Orders New Hearing After Social Security Ignores Evidence from Applicant's Psychiatrist

In far too many disability cases, Social Security does not provide the proper weight to the opinions of an applicant’s own physician. A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) will often credit the views of the outside experts–who often believe the applicant is not disabled–and ignore the contrary opinions of the treating physician. While this is not necessarily against regulations, the ALJ cannot simply ignore evidence.

Consider a recent decision by a federal magistrate judge here in Illinois, Sartin v. Berryhill. The plaintiff in this case is a woman who first applied for disability benefits nearly five years ago. At a hearing, the ALJ accepted evidence that the plaintiff suffered from a number of severe impairments, including depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nevertheless, the ALJ found these impairments “do not meet or medically equal” a legally recognized disability.

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Posted on in Social Security Disability

On August 25th, 2012, the Social Security Administration (SSA) gave appointed representatives with access to online business services the capability to download audio recordings from Social Security disability hearings. This is a major step towards streamlining the disability benefits appeals process.

After a claimant has been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits at an administrative law hearing, he or she has 60 days to file an appeal to the Appeals Council.  If the claimant chooses to file an appeal, his or her Social Security disability attorney will likely request the hearing recording from the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). Not unlike any other part of the disability process, obtaining the hearing recording from ODAR is often quite difficult. It involves getting the right person on the phone to speak to, receiving the physical cd in the mail, and then having a functional disk to work off of. Meanwhile, Social Security still has their filing deadline to be mindful of.

Now, disability lawyers can login to Appointed Representative Services (ARS) and immediately gain access to hearing records. This new feature will likely improve efficiency and along with the other features already in place allow representatives to better serve their clients.

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One of our readers posed the following question: "I was wondering what I should bring with me to my Social Security disability hearing, would it be better to leave everything at home or should I just bring everything I can think of with me?"

This is an excellent question that frequently gets overlooked. Most claimants wait a very long time before they finally have their day in court. The court date is the day most claimants have been waiting for to argue why they deserve disability benefits. Therefore, it is crucial to have the resources and tools readily available to paint the most accurate picture of what your physical or mental limitations are and how they could create potential hurdles for you in a work setting. Below are some things a claimant should consider:

1) If a claimant wears any kind of brace (i.e. back or neck brace, hand splints, walking boot, etc.) it should be brought to the hearing. The hearing is very informal. While a claimant may be tempted to come to the hearing in a suit in order to look professional or impress the court, leaving the brace behind does not give the judge an accurate depiction of the claimant's needs outside the courtroom.

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