The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Unveils Revised Regulations on the Submission of Evidence
On April 20, 2015, the SSA’s final regulations on the submission of evidence went into effect. The new rules require disability claimants to submit to the SSA all known evidence – favorable and unfavorable – pertaining to their (claimants’) blindness and deafness, unless that material is (1) protected by attorney-client privilege, or (2) the claimant representative’s “analysis of the claim.” We will explore the new rules, and both exceptions, subsequently.
Where previously, a claimant was required to submit evidence that proved his disability, the new regulations on submission of evidence require a claimant to submit all known evidence relating to his disability, regardless of whether that evidence is favorable or unfavorable. This duty is required of the claimant at all levels of the disability administrative process; the regulations also stipulate that a claimant representative must do everything within reason to help his claimant obtain and submit necessary evidence as promptly as possible. Claimants and their representatives must also inform the SSA of disability-related evidence they know exists, but do not possess.
The exceptions to the new regulations on submission of evidence include material that is protected by attorney-client privilege. However, the SSA notes that attorney-client privilege protects only the communication between attorney and client, not the disclosure of factual information pertaining to the case therein.
The exceptions also include material that is classified as “analysis of the claim,” which is information that is compiled by the claimant representative in a preparatory capacity. This exception, like that of attorney-client privilege, does not protect the disclosure of underlying facts, such as medical evidence, and medical source opinions that relate to the disability claim. Such information cannot be withheld under either exception.
The new regulations have raised a number of questions about their implementation, interpretation, and impact. In our next entry, we will examine some of these unknowns.