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Lost in Translation

Medical records are a must-have when it comes to a disability case. In order to win your claim, you have to provide evidence--and, for the Social Security Administration, that evidence comes in the form of your medical records and opinions from your doctors.

For most clients, this isn't an issue. The medical records exist because they've been in treatment; the only obstacle is getting the records from all of their treating sources. Medical records can often be hard to get a hold of, and sometimes there are fees associated with them. But, one of our clients faced a different obstacle...she had all of her medical records--thousands and thousands of pages of them. The problem? They were in Spanish.

When our client went to her first hearing, she was denied. Although she delivered credible testimony, the ALJ was unable to confirm what our client was saying by reading her medical records due to the language barrier. In fact, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dismissed the evidence (her medical records) because he was unable to read them.

The Social Security Administration has a manual that they follow--it's referred to as HALLEX (Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law Manual). There are different HALLEX regulations for just about everything pertaining to SSD and SSI cases. And, there's a HALLEX that states that a claimant's record must include an English translation of any document in a foreign language. The ALJ in the case failed to follow the rules, and we appealed our client's decision with that in mind.

Our client's claim was remanded, and she received her benefits without having to return for another hearing.

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