Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Can I Send The Appeals Council New Evidence To Consider?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Aug 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

For people with serious health problems, it is common for them to have new medical developments after their case has gone to the Appeals Council (AC). As a reminder, the AC is the organization that reviews decisions made by Administrative Law Judges (ALJ's).  If you saw an ALJ and lost, your next step would be the AC.

Old Standard Was Pretty Lax

Until recently, the AC was rather liberal in what new medical evidence (test results, xrays, etc) they would consider. Specifically, the AC would look at evidence that arose after the ALJ heard the case so long as that evidence related to what

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Here's Something New

the ALJ considered. "Related" was a pretty broad term and it allowed claimants to submit almost anything to the AC.

New Standard Harder To Meet

As of May 1, 2017, however, that has changed. Now, the AC must believe that any evidence that arises after the ALJ decided hte case must have a reasonable probability of changing the outcome of the case. While this new language is still rather vague, it is clear that the AC is tightening their requirements for what new evidence they will examine.

Claimants Have Nowhere To Go While Awaiting AC Decisions

It makes sense to not hold ALJ's responsible for considering evidence that did not exist at the time of their decisions. But, given the extremely long delays at the AC, their new requirements may prove unworkable.  In essence, the AC is imposing a blackout on hearing what has happened to the claimant after the time of the ALJ's decision.  In the two years it takes for the

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How About An Answer?

AC to make a decision, a claimant's health could worsen dramatically.  If the AC won't hear of these changes and the ALJ is powerless to act until she gets the case back from the AC, the claimant is stuck in no man's land. 

Another Approach?

I understand what the AC is trying to accomplish with their new regulations. But, I think that this is going to create a very serious hardship for claimants who are awaiting a decision from the AC. Perhaps there should be a third option, some way to send the case back to the ALJ without an AC decision. That would allow the ALJ to consider the new evidence in a timely fashion.

Do you think these new regulations are fair? How would you handle this issue? Let me know.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.

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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 20 years.

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