SSA Hearing Level Letters
75 Day Waiver Letters
SSA will invite you to waive your right to 75 day notice before your hearing. You should never waive a right with SSA without discussing it with your attorney's office. If you receive this letter, contact your representative to discuss it. SSA makes its offers sound good and fair, but in reality they rarely are. SSA cares about processing time and keeping costs down, not about fairly adjudicating your claim.
Video Tele-Conference Hearings (VTC)
Currently, you still have a right to have an in-person hearing. SSA is fighting to overturn this, though. If you agree to have a VTC, SSA will likely move your case to a National Hearing Center or a hearing office outside of your local region. You may end up with a better judge, but most likely it will be worse. Also, while SSA says that it will make your case go faster, their National Hearing Centers have some of the longest waits.
One advantage to doing a VTC is that you may not have to travel as far if you live in a remote area. However, usually, your local hearing office will offer you a close VTC hearing, and if that happens you can agree to the VTC at that point.
Additionally, VTC technology offers less security for your personal information than most in person hearings.
We generally recommend that you tell SSA that you opt out of VTC and request an in-person hearing.
SSA-827 Release of Information
This is a release that SSA frequently sends out. It allows SSA to collect records about you. Although SSA sends it out regularly, they rarely use it to request your treating records. Still, when you receive it you should return it to SSA.
Work History, Medications, and Medical Treatment Forms
SSA also regularly sends out SSA forms 4631, 4632, and 4633. These are basic update forms. It is likely that your work history has not changed, but they still ask you to complete it. The medication form asks for your current medications, and the medical treatment form asks for your recent doctor visits.
SSA rarely does anything with these forms. However, it is best to complete them. You can send them back to SSA directly or you can send them to your attorney who will submit them for you. Regardless, when you get them, you should contact your attorney to let them know.
Work Activity Report
This is an important form to fill out for SSA. It is important to remember that at the hearing level, SSA is not good at identifying what income you have and whether it comes from doing work or from insurance or severance or something like that.
When someone at SSA sees income noted after your alleged disability began, they usually assume that you were working. However, that money is often short term disability insurance, unused leave payments, or severance from an employer, among other things.
Before an ALJ can award your case, they must understand what this income was. This form is very useful in explaining that to them. While this form is useful, we also recommend that you save evidence of your other payments and write a summary to the ALJ so that they understand you were not working.