Over past years, the Social Security Administration has provided attorneys with CD's with copies of their client's files. Just a few days ago, the SSA announced that commencing August 18th it will stop this practice. From now on, all attorneys must access their client's files electronically using the "Appointed Representative Service" (ARS). I urge all lawyers who have not registered in the ARS to register as soon as possible.
Beginning August 18th, all Social Security Disability lawyers are going to have to download their clients' files into their own CD's or, download the files into their own laptops and bring the computers into the hearing room. I'm looking forward to this change. The current system used by the SSA is not working very well for me. I find that very frequently the CD's provided to lawyers are not up to date or are broken. Moreover, the desktop computers available at hearing rooms are awfully slow or freeze in the middle of the hearing. I have been registered in the ARS for several years and really don't know why I have continued to rely of the CD's provided on the day of the hearing. I should have started bringing my own laptop to the hearing rooms a long time ago.
I must confess that the only reason why I have not been bringing my own laptop into Social Security Disability hearings is that I don't like having to pass too many items through the metal detectors at Federal Buildings. Social Security hearings are held in Federal Buildings with very tight security and going through this airport type of routine is a real hassle.
For those lawyers who are new to the ARS or are not very skilled using it, here is a great practice tip that I learned from the tech savvy staff at RamosLaw: Download the client's file into a PDF document. Use a PDF program that allows you to make bookmarks and comments on the file. Take notes on the PDF document and flag important exhibits that you can easily refer to during the hearing. This will enable you make quick references to Exhibits and medical records during your presentation without loosing your train of thought or getting sidetracked by the inability to find an exhibit.