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What is the 5-day rule?

You wanted your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to go nice and smoothly. However, you ended up getting an initial denial. You now find yourself in the process of appealing the denial.

This is a situation many SSDI applicants end up in. Now, the appeals process can involve many things. In some instances, it ends up involving a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). When you are going to be heading into such a hearing, there are many rules that could end up being very impactful. One of these is the five-day rule.

The five-day rule: An evidence deadline

This rule regards the timeline for submitting written evidence to the ALJ for the hearing. It sets a deadline for such evidence. Under it, evidence generally has to be given to the ALJ by five business days before the scheduled hearing’s date.

What are the consequences of missing this deadline? Typically, an ALJ can deny consideration of evidence submitted after the deadline. So, evidence that misses the deadline could have a much lower chance of having a positive impact in an appeal.

The exceptions to the five-day rule

Now, there are certain things that could make it difficult or impossible for you to meet this deadline. If this happens, are you simply out of luck?

It depends on the situation. There are some exceptions under which judges are still required, as long as a decision has not yet been rendered, to accept evidence even if it was submitted after the deadline set by the five-day rule. The three main exceptions are if the missing of the deadline happened because:

  • Of a linguistic, educational, mental or physical limitation you had
  • You were misled by an action of the Social Security Administration
  • You encountered a circumstance that was unavoidable, unusual or unexpected and that was beyond your control

The importance of knowing the rules

When you are appealing an SSDI denial through an ALJ hearing, how closely you comply with the five-day rule and other important rules could have major implications. So, gaining an accurate understanding of these rules through things such as obtaining quality legal guidance can be important aspect of preparing for a hearing.

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