Your Social Security exhibit file, also known as the claim file, will play a key role in the appeal process. The file gathers together every piece of evidence related to your disability benefits case and orders it for easy reference by you and the legal professionals involved with your case.
The exhibit file is particularly important for the Administrative Law Judge assigned to your case. The ALJ will refer to it during your appeal hearing and throughout his or her decision process.
What’s in the exhibit file?
The exhibit file contains complete documentation of your application process, to date, including:
- Your original application for disability benefits
- Your Social Security Earnings Record
- The disability determination, explaining your medical condition and the reason your application was denied
- All forms you or your attorney have completed for Social Security
- Medical records
- RFC forms or medical source statements from your doctor
- All communications from Social Security
- Testimonials about your disability from you or others
Additionally, if you are appealing an ALJ decision, the file will contain:
- Hearing transcripts
- Notice of Decision from the ALJ
If you are appealing to federal district court, the file will include:
- Action of Appeals Council on Request for Review, or an explanation of if your file was accepted for review
- Details from the Appeal Council’s review of your file, if applicable
- The Summons and Complaint filed at federal district court
The exhibit file and you.
After you file to appeal a denied claim, ODAR (the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) retrieves your file from the field office where you originally filed it. The administrative staff at ODAR will sort and index your file, numbering each individual document to create an exhibit list to be used as a reference for your appeal. This is a slow and methodical process, constituting several of the weeks it will take before your hearing is scheduled.
Upon completing the exhibit list, ODAR will mail copies to you and your representation. You will usually be contacted about the claim appeal hearing around the time you receive the list.
A Houston SSDI lawyer will contact you after carefully reviewing your exhibit list and the contents of your file so you can discuss any issues they’ve turned up.
Generally, even claimants who are working with legal representation will benefit from familiarizing themselves with the contents of the exhibit file. That way, if you discover an omission, mistake, or any other problems, you can notify your attorney and get the problem dealt with before your day in court.
If you’re ready to discuss what Morgan & Weisbrod can do for you, call 800-800-6353 to schedule a no-cost consultation today. Also be sure to order your copy of our book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, available to you free.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.