Thursday, September 6, 2012

Updating Medical Evidence

A State agency makes the initial decision whether or not to approve an application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. If the State agency denies the application, then the next step in New York is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (“ODAR”).

After ODAR receives an appeal, it sends the claimant an introductory letter that discusses the procedures at the hearing level. One of the things that the introductory letter advises the claimant is that additional evidence should be provided. Typically, the letter will state, “Giving us evidence early can often help us review your case sooner.”

I represent a 48 year old truck driver whose SSD application was denied by the State agency, and I requested a hearing on July 23, 2012. On August 25, 2012, I submitted a new report from the claimant’s orthopedist, which contained information similar to a report that I had previously submitted from the orthopedist. A week later, a decision was made to approve the claim.

It is possible that the claimant’s SSD application eventually would have been approved even if the second report from the orthopedist had not been submitted. However, submitting the new report acted as a trigger for the claim file to be reviewed, which resulted in an approval without a hearing. Even if additional medical evidence appears cumulative, it should be provided to the ODAR.

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