The first few weeks of 2009 have been extremely busy for me. I have been appearing at 5 or more hearings just about every week this year. I am trying to manage my caseload by submitting on-the-record requests in as many cases as I can.
My on-the-record request also serve as a pre-hearing brief for case that is on my calendar. However, if I can convince the judge to approve my case without requiring me to drive or take the train downtown, my client can avoid the stress of appearing at a hearing and I can save myself several hours of time.
Recently I was schedule to try a case involving a 63 year old woman with documented back issues, diabetes and a neuromuscular disease similar to multiple sclerosis. She was already receiving early retirement benefits, so the only issue was whether she was entitled to past due benefits from age 59, when she stopped working through age 62, when she began receiving early retirement benefits.
In my view this was a fairly clear cut case and there were several arguments to support our claim. I set out my arguments in an on-the-record decision and emailed it to the judge, who I knew to be a fair and reasonable person. A few days after I submitted my request I received an email back advising me that the judge was prepared to grant this claim.
The judge agreed to let me appear telephonically so on the morning of the hearing, the hearing assistant called me and we recorded a 5 minute hearing in which the judge announced his favorable bench decision. Since I was at home that morning, I “appeared” by telephone while I was sitting in a comfortable chair in my t-shirt and gym shorts.
I redacted the personal information from the case, and published my on-the-record request on one of my Georgia Social Security disability web sites. Click the link to read my argument.