Serving Louisiana and Mississippi - (504) 309.8230
Gretna, LA 70056
How to Read an Exhibits Letter for Your Social Security Disability Appeal in New Orleans
When you’re appealing a Social Security Disability denial, you get a lot of letters in the mail asking you to provide more information. Appeals are complicated. You have forms to fill out and deadlines to meet.
One of the letters you’ll probably see asks you to review the “proposed exhibits” in your case. Exhibits are different types of evidence and information you need to support your appeal.
The exhibits letter will ask you to fill out certain forms Social Security has decided are important for your case.
You need to be careful responding to this letter, so you don’t end up hurting your chances of winning benefits.
At the office of Gary Sells, Disability Benefits Advocate, we strongly recommend that you work with a professional representative on your appeal.
For more on understanding the Social Security Disability exhibits letter, keep reading.
The exhibits letter arrives in your mailbox after you have officially filed to appeal your Social Security Disability denial — and about three to six months before you have a hearing with an administrative law judge.
This letter is a sign that your case is pending at the hearing office. You probably haven’t received a date for your hearing yet, but the judge’s office is gathering information it needs to proceed with your claim.
The letter tells you it’s your responsibility to provide medical records from doctor visits, showing you have an impairment so severe that you can’t work.
It asks you to send new records but to avoid sending duplicates of records Social Security already has from your initial application.
This is an important time to check what’s in your file.
Get Your Social Security Disc
One of the first things you should do when you receive an exhibits letter is call the Social Security hearing office and ask for a copy of the disc containing your file.
The information on the disc will show you everything you’ve already submitted to Social Security. You can see what you need to add or update and what you don’t need to send because it’s already there.
When you’re working with a disability advocate, they can request this disc for you.
Or if you get the disc yourself, give it to your representative so they can review everything on it.
How to Fill Out Forms that Come with Your Exhibits Letter
The exhibits letter also will ask you to return some forms.
Those include forms explaining your most recent medical treatment, the medications you’re taking and your work background.
This is where it’s particularly important to be careful.
People often make mistakes when they fill out these forms.
The work history form, for example, asks you to list your past jobs.
This might remind you of job applications you’ve seen, where your goal was to make your work experience look as impressive as possible.
But don’t treat it that way.
You should be honest about your past jobs, but avoid overly selling what you can do.
One of the key tests in winning Social Security Disability benefits is whether you have skills that are transferable to other jobs.
The more transferable skills you have, the more likely Social Security will turn you down for disability benefits because you could get another kind of job that your health problems don’t prevent you from doing.
You should also only list your last 15 years of jobs. That’s all that Social Security requires.
If you list more than that—say a sedentary clerical job you did 20 years ago—Social Security might see it and say you could go back to that kind of job with the physical limitations you have.
That job from 20 years ago could overshadow the fact that you’ve only been doing much more physically demanding work for the last 19 years.
Get Professional Help with Your Social Security Disability Appeal
When you’re appealing a Social Security Disability denial and you receive an exhibits letter, you’ve reached a level in the process where you need a professional advocate to help you.
Disability advocate Gary Sells and his team have helped thousands of people in the New Orleans area get through this process.
We’ll evaluate your case for free. We don’t charge a fee until you win benefits.
And even then, our fee comes out of the back benefits Social Security awards for the time you spent waiting for a favorable decision. The fee doesn’t come out of your payments going forward.