It was hard enough to have your original application for disability benefits from Social Security denied. Now that you’re in the appeal process, denials become that much more frustrating. Many people worry that they’ll never be able to obtain approval and start receiving the benefits they urgently need.

However, once your hearing has been scheduled, you’ll want to make sure all the evidence is in the file, you or your attorney need to follow up.

First, verify that the exhibit list for your claim file is included in the notice of hearing. The list serves as an index to all the paperwork associated with the file; the Administrative Law Judge uses it throughout his or her determination process.

If you don’t find the list with your hearing notice, immediately contact your attorney so that the attorney can contact the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) where your hearing will take place and ask them to send you one. Your best opportunity to present your evidence is at the hearing. It is the only opportunity for you to speak.

When you have the exhibit list, evaluate it to verify that none of your medical documentation, records, or other relevant information was omitted. It is impossible for the Judge to evaluate documentary evidence that is not in the file.

If there’s a problem, the right time to solve it is before your hearing with an ALJ. Examples include:

  • The exhibit list does not contain all your medical records.
  • Your medical evidence has not been updated since Social Security's last denial
  • A medical opinion that may change the ALJ’s decision isn’t in your claim file.
  • An outdated document did not reflect new findings about your medical condition.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits in Sarpy County can be frustrating and disheartening. If you need help determining your next step, talk to the team at Cuddigan Law. Call 402-933-5405. Our informative report, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, is available to you free.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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