What is this new FIVE DAY rule? How does it affect me?

Question: I just got a letter from SSA about new rules. What does this mean to me?

Dear Reader:

You are not alone. We have gotten many calls and emails from people who received the same letter from SSA. The new five day rule will apply to you if you have an ALJ hearing scheduled on or after May 1, 2017.

SSA’s New Five Day Rule

Hearing level Claimants were recently sent a letter telling them about Social Security’s new Five Day Rule. If you got a letter, it probably looked like this:



What is this new rule, and what does it mean to you?

Starting May 1, 2017, Claimants (or their attorneys) must submit ALL EVIDENCE to Social Security at least five (5) business days BEFORE their hearing date.

If you do not submit your evidence at least five (5) days before your hearing is scheduled, the judge does not have to accept your evidence!

This five day rule means you can no longer show up to your hearing holding a big pile of medical records and expect the judge to review them.

So, you will need to carefully plan for your hearing ahead of time. Request all medical records well in advance of your hearing. Follow up with your doctors’ offices to make sure that they have received your request and are working on it. Follow up AGAIN, if they do not get back to you quickly.

Then, submit all of this medical evidence to SSA at least five (5) BUSINESS days before your hearing.

Here is what Social Security told us about the five day rule in their recent letter:



Note that there are exceptions to the five (5) day rule:

  • SSA misled you somehow
  • You have a limitation that keeps you from telling SSA about the medical evidence
  • Some unexpected or unavoidable circumstance kept you from submitting the evidence in time

BOTTOM LINE: Do not wait until the last minute! Gather your evidence and get it submitted. The sooner, the better.

Here is the actual text from this new rule:

§405.331. Submitting evidence to an administrative law judge.

(a) When you submit your request for hearing, you should also submit information or evidence as required by §§ 404.1512 or 416.912 of this chapter or any summary of the evidence to the administrative law judge. You must submit any written evidence no later than 5 business days before the date of the scheduled hearing. If you do not comply with this requirement, the administrative law judge may decline to consider the evidence unless the circumstances described in paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section apply.

(b) If you miss the deadline described in paragraph (a) of this section and you wish to submit evidence during the five business days before the hearing or at the hearing, the administrative law judge will accept the evidence if you show that:

(1) Our action misled you;

(2) You had a physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitation(s) that prevented you from submitting the evidence earlier; or

(3) Some other unusual, unexpected, or unavoidable circumstance beyond your control prevented you from submitting the evidence earlier.

(c) If you miss the deadline described in paragraph (a) of this section and you wish to submit evidence after the hearing and before the hearing decision is issued, the administrative law judge will accept the evidence if you show that there is a reasonable possibility that the evidence, alone or when considered with the other evidence of record, would affect the outcome of your claim, and:

(1) Our action misled you;

(2) You had a physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitation(s) that prevented you from submitting the evidence earlier; or

(3) Some other unusual, unexpected, or unavoidable circumstance beyond your control prevented you from submitting the evidence earlier.

I hope this helps you understand how this new rule applies to you. If you have an attorney representing you, then there is no need to worry. It is your attorney’s job to be sure that all acquired evidence is submitted in time.

Thank you for your question, and best of luck with your claim!

Deborah L. Hardin, Managing Attorney

Last updated: April 6, 2017 at 10:17 am