Updates from the NOSSCR Conference

Posted June 23, 2017 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Attorneys from Premier Disability Services, LLC recently had the pleasure of attending the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) conference in Washington, D.C. on June 7-10. As always, the NOSSCR staff did a great job putting together programs detailing key trends in the field of Social Security Law. Below are two important updates we learned at the NOSSCR conference.

The Five-Day Rule

Patrick Nagle, SSA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, spoke during the welcoming general session. One of the primary topics Judge Nagle spoke about was the new Five-Day evidence submission rule. This rule requires that a representative or claimant submit or inform the Judge about evidence five business days prior to the hearing date. If this deadline is missed, a show of good cause would be required. This rule clearly creates an “inform” option, where the requirements of the rule are met simply by notifying the Judge about evidence five days prior to the hearing. However, Judges have been inconsistently applying this rule nationwide. In many cases, Judges have interpreted the rule to mean they do not have to admit any evidence submitted within five business days from the hearing.

During the welcoming general session, Judge Nagle did confirm that representatives’ understanding of the “inform” option was correct. If a representative notifies the Judge about the evidence by the deadline then that is sufficient to satisfy the evidence rule. He also confirmed that Judges are receiving ongoing training on this rule so that their application will become uniform. Judge Nagle did suggest submitting any attempts to obtain the evidence with a letter summarizing the evidence. I would contend that this is even unnecessary as it would constitute a show of good cause. However, it may be a good practice to implement.

Addressing the Hearing Backlog

SSA’s Acting Chief of Staff Bea Disman also spoke during the general session. She addressed an interesting dilemma facing hearing offices nationwide. In addition to the significant backlog of cases awaiting a hearing date, there is also now a large backlog of cases that are decided, but need a decision put into writing. Unfortunately, to address this backlog, SSA has been required to pull resources from programs previously designed to reduce the hearing wait times. For example, the National Adjudication Team (NAT) is structured to screen cases to determine if they are good candidates for a favorable decision “on the record” (OTR). Many of the attorneys tasked with looking for OTR candidates are now writing decisions to assist with the backlog. Clearly, SSA will need to address both backlogs simultaneously, or else the pendulum effect will continue.

By: Premier Disability Services, LLC®