When you apply for Social Security disability, there is a lot of information collected to assist in making the determination of whether or not your claim meets the criteria for approval. If your claim is denied, you and/or your attorney will have the opportunity to appeal the decision to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Unfortunately, you will only have a limited amount of time. Because of this, your attorney may suggest submitting a representative brief to the judge prior to the hearing. Not only will this give the judge a concise view of your claim, but it will also offer several other benefits as well. Here are a few.
Shows How Your Claim Compares To The Impairment Listings
One of the main evaluation criteria used by Social Security in determining whether or not you are disabled is a Listing of Impairments. This guide, which is sometimes also referred to as "the blue book", is broken down by each of your body's major body systems and their functions, as well as qualifying medical conditions that would be considered disabling enough to receive benefits.
For example: Under respiratory illnesses, you would find listings for asthma and cystic fibrosis. In another section under neurological disorders, you would find multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, and epilepsy.
If your condition is on the Listing of Impairments, you must be able to show the extent that it limits your residual functional capacity (RFC), or the amount of activity you are still able to do despite your condition. Even if your condition is not in the blue book, you may still qualify if you are able to show that your condition is equivalent to one that the book contains.
Your medical condition and your RFC would be supported in your medical records that are a part of your disability record. Unfortunately, most ALJs are not going to take the time to go through what could be volumes of records. A representative brief would give the judge a snapshot or outline of what your record states.
Outlines Your Case
Many times, if you are at the point of an appeal hearing, whether or not you have a qualifying condition is not in question; the real question becomes whether or not your condition is actually disabling. A representative brief allows your attorney to do several things in outline form. Some of these are:
- Bring the points of contention to the front,
- Tell the judge the arguments that they are going to make in regard to the points
- Outline the evidence they are going to use to support their points
- Give the judge the location of pertinent documentation within your record
This allows the judge to formulate any additional questions that they have for the attorneys during the hearing, and it keeps them from overlooking critical information in your case.
Helps Your Attorney Better Understand Your Case
A good Social Security disability attorney might be handling hundreds of cases at any given time. Sometimes some of these cases are very similar in nature, with the exception of one or two small points. When your attorney prepares a representative brief in your case, it allows them to review your case in order to get a stronger understanding of you, the client, and to become better acquainted with what is contained within your medical record.
Not every attorney chooses to submit a representative brief in a Social Security Disability appeal. Ask your disability attorney if this is something that they routinely do and whether it is something that they are willing to do as a part of your case. By asking them, the two of you will be able to discuss the strategies they are going to use in order to assist you in winning your case.