I recently received the following question from a blog reader who asked a very interesting question:
I just had my second hearing with administrative judge and wanted to add a very brief fact into testimony and was wondering if it is acceptable to write the judge directly. I do have a lawyer, but I am unsure that some of my letters of issues that I want to clarify are not being seen by the judge.
Here are my thoughts: first, if you have a lawyer I think that any communication from you needs to come through your lawyer. Judges generally do not accept direct communications from disability claimants – more likely than not, the judge’s office would return your submission to you, and, most likely copy your lawyer with a form letter advising you to use your lawyer to submit all documents.
Second, unless the information you want to add is extremely significant I would hesitate to try to update your hearing testimony. Social Security judges are very busy and when you try to add a document after the record has closed at your hearing, it will require someone at the hearing office to manually pull your file. This could result in a delay in the issuance of your hearing decision. Further, judges usually “close the record” after the hearing so it is doubtful that your added information would be considered anyway. You have had two hearings – I suspect that your judge has a fairly clear understanding of the facts of your case.
I would discuss with your lawyer what the best options are here. If the “very brief fact” is extremely significant and your lawyer agrees that it makes sense to try to reopen the record, then he can try to do so in a post-hearing brief or submission of evidence. On the other hand your lawyer may advise you that the hassle factor for the judge outweighs the importance of the information and he may advise you to let the matter rest while you wait for a decision.
Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 29 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.