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New York Disability Lawyer Herbert Forsmith Discusses Pre-Hearing Screening of Social Security Disability Claims

The Social Security Administration has a large backlog of cases, and it is not uncommon for a claim for Social Security disability benefits to linger in the system for over a year. For a claimant who is genuinely disabled and unable to work, this can present extreme financial difficulties. Deprived of a source of income, and without the financial safety of a Social Security disability check, a claimant can easily burn through his or her savings and be unable to pay rent. A claimant in such a situation may even have to forego needed medical treatment because of an inability to pay his or her bills.

The Social Security Administration periodically introduces new measures designed to decrease this backlog of claims stuck at the hearing level. One of these measures is called the “pre-hearing interrogatory.” The SSA describes its purpose as, “identify[ing] disability claimants whose impairments are most likely to meet the requirements for disability.” Under this initiative, the Office of Quality Performance reviews cases and picks out ones that are most likely to result in fully favorable decisions.

These cases are referred for “on-the-record decisions,” which are cases that are basically bumped to the head of the line and assigned to a decision-maker. The Social Security Administration will send interrogatories about the claimant to a medical expert, along with a cover letter. The claimant and his or her disability lawyer are not given copies of this correspondence.

If the medical evidence in a claimant’s case is strong, and depending on the medical expert’s response to the interrogatories, the administrative law judge may choose to approve a claimant for benefits without conducting a hearing. A pre-hearing screening will not result in a denial of benefits. If the administrative law judge does not approve you at this stage, you will still get an ordinary hearing.

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A New York disability lawyer can request an on-the-record review, and will sometimes do so if a client’s medical evidence is especially strong. Only an experienced disability attorney will have the knowledge to use methods like these to advance your case through the system. I have over 30 years experience dealing with Social Security disability cases, and have been practicing Social Security disability law since 1998. Before that, I heard and decided Social Security cases (including disability cases) for 20 years. I have the experience and knowledge that you need to help you win New York Social Security disability benefits.

For a free evaluation of your claim, please fill out the form on this page or contact me using the phone number at the top of the page.