Hill & Ponton, P.A.

Video Blog – SS Pre-Hearing Preparation

Natalia Jofre: Hello, and welcome to Hill & Ponton’s Social Security Disability blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, the social security director for our firm.
Shelly Mark: I am Shelly Mark, I’m the senior social security attorney with the firm
Natalia Jofre: The last couple of blogs we’ve been talking about the hearing level, and once you get to that level, now we’re going to talk about what occurs. You’ve waited now about a year-
Shelly Mark: Right.
Natalia Jofre: To just get to the hearing level, now you’re actually waiting for your hearing to be scheduled, and it’s actually scheduled. Do you want to let them know a little bit about what happens?
Shelly Mark: Sure, at that point when I say that they’re actually scheduled, they’re probably about close to 24 months from when we actually filed the request for hearing. At that point, with our clients, what we like to do is a pre-hearing conference. That’s where you will be scheduled with an attorney, and the attorney will contact you and do about 45 minutes to an hour of a conference preparing you for your hearing.
Basically, we want you to feel comfortable the day of your hearing, so we’re going to talk to you about your judge, their personality, and how they like to hold their hearings because they all are very different, too. We do get to work with them very frequently, so we have a good understanding of what they like and what they don’t like.
We’ll talk to a client about what kind of questions are going to be asked of them the day of their hearing, what kind of time … how long is it going to last, just what to expect so that we can kind of put them at ease as much as we possibly can.
Natalia Jofre: Yeah, and you work really hard, too, at figuring out and making sure that you have their full medical history, you know all of their doctors, all of their hospitals, what medications they’ve taken, what they’re currently on, and everything else because that’s huge. The medical treatment is probably the biggest factor other than testifying at the hearing.
Shelly Mark: That’s exactly right, Natalia. We pride ourselves with having the complete file when we go to the hearing. The one thing we don’t want to do is walk into a hearing after our firm has had it for coming up on 36 months and not have a complete record. We work really hard with our clients to make sure that they’ve let us know all of their providers, so we can request the records. If we don’t know about them, obviously we can’t get the records.
At the pre-hearing conference, we’ll go over all of that again just to make sure that everything is in the file and ready.
Natalia Jofre: Even for claimants that choose to represent themselves, the new rule is that all of it has to be in, no questions asked, five days before the hearing.
Shelly Mark: That’s a very good point.
Natalia Jofre: That’s the absolute deadline, right?
Shelly Mark: Yes.
Natalia Jofre: If you don’t have absolutely everything in, they can either postpone or reschedule … basically, the same thing, reschedule your hearing.
Shelly Mark: That’s correct, and if you submit records after that, or after your hearing, they do not have to consider them.
Natalia Jofre: Wow.
Shelly Mark: It’s really a case by case basis as far as whether the judge is going to consider that evidence. That again comes back to the fact that it’s taken so long for you to get a hearing date that there’s an expectation there that you should have had plenty of time to prep your file.
Natalia Jofre: Sometimes it’s not easy to get those last minute records. If you’ve had recent medical treatment … and I know that we have good working relationships with a lot of doctors and so hopefully, we’re usually able to get them but it’s not a certainty if you don’t know where to even start.
Shelly Mark: It’s very helpful for us as attorneys to have a complete record so that we can complete a memo. We do like to submit a memo that just briefly goes over the client’s file and explains the medical treatment and their past work and all that, so if it’s really beneficial for us, as well, to have a complete file prior to the hearing that we know everything that has taken place.
Natalia Jofre: Okay great. Well, next time we’re going to talk about what happens at the actual hearing, so if you want information on that, please join us. Otherwise, you can visit our website or call our office if you have any questions. We’ll see you next time.
Shelly Mark: Thank you.