Your Social Security Claim file contains every record, document and letter associated with your application for SSI or SSDI benefits. Officially known as the exhibit file in Nebraska disability court, the file will offer the Administrative Law Judge assigned to your case a detailed overview of where you are in the claim process and how you got there.

Ideally, the file will give them important insights during your hearing and while they are considering your case afterward.

What’s in my claim file?

The exhibit file is a comprehensive collection of all the documents related to your claim. It can include:

  • Original application for disability benefits
  • Social Security Earnings Record
  • Any forms you’ve completed for the SSA
  • Medical records
  • RFC forms and other medical source statements
  • All communications from the SSA
  • The disability determination from DDS, explaining why your original claim wasn’t accepted
  • Statements about your disabilities from family and associates

When appealing a previous ALJ decision, the file will also contain:

  • Transcripts of previous hearings
  • The ALJ’s Notice of Decision

If you’re appealing to federal district court, the file will include:

  • The Appeals Council’s review
  • Action of Appeals Council on Request for Review
  • The Summons and Complaint filed at federal district court

What should I know about the exhibit file?

Once you file an appeal, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, ODAR, requests your file from the Social Security field office where you originally filed. At ODAR, your claim file is sorted, all the documents are numbered, and an exhibit list is created. The exhibit list is essentially a table of contents to allow quick access to your file during your hearing and while the ALJ is making her or his decision. The list will take several weeks to complete.

When it is finished, a copy of the list is sent to you and your representative. Typically, this will also be the point at which the appeal hearing is scheduled.

One of the advantages of working with a Sarpy County disability attorney is that a legal professional is better able to catch certain errors or omissions in your exhibit file—and they’ll have a much better sense of how to appropriately remedy problems that can seem overwhelming to someone less familiar with the Social Security claim process.

If you’re ready for a free evaluation, call Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405—or email us at [email protected]. Our informative booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, is free to your request.

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