This blog post is in reference to another conversation that I had with a colleague after a hearing. Prior to the hearing his paralegals had updated with a client what they thought was the “all inclusive” relevant medical information. The phone call had lasted for roughly 45 minutes, and the client had assured the paralegals that they had given the attorney’s office the names of all of their clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities that they had treated at. The amount of sources seemed light, but the client assured her that those were the only places he had visited.
The day before the hearing the client and their attorney started talking about the treating sources and everything that was updated by the paralegal seemed to mesh.
On the day of the hearing they had the same conversation and according to the client all medical sources had been updated.
Then the testimony of the client began. They suddenly had an epiphany and remembered 3 clinics that they had visited, including an MRI procedure! The Administrative Law Judge was not impressed at all. Specifically, he assumed that the attorney had not fulfilled their responsibility and threatened to file a board complaint if the updated records did not get submitted. Thankfully the ALJ gave the attorney 30 days to get the records into his office and proceeded with the hearing.
The biggest loser on the day was not the attorney, but the client. In a conversation afterward, the client admitted that he couldn’t remember the names of the facilities that he had treated at and assumed that this information would be have been included in his other information. HE WAS WRONG. Had he come clean and worked through the problem with the paralegal and/or his attorney the file would have been complete and a decision could have possibly been made in his case. He had an ALJ with an extremely high approval rate (approximately 65%) and a tendency to want to make decisions in a “Bench Decision” format. Now, he is stuck waiting 30 days for the Judge to make up his mind AND the possible 3-4 months it takes for a ALJ’s assistant to write a decision in the regular format.
The point of the story is this: Clients, please keep track of all of your medical treating sources. The more information you have about the facility, doctor’s name, tests performed, etc. the more information your attorney will request. ALJ’s are forced to make decisions when all information (good and bad) is present. Do yourself a favor and help your attorney do it right the first time.
-Written by an Attorney at Hoglund Law