The Social Security Administration's Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual states that its Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) should make opening statements in Social Security disability hearings. While the matter is not formally prescribed one way or another, ALs also typically invite claimant representatives-the advocates and attorneys who assist claimants in presenting their evidence before ALJs-to make opening statements. Despite this incentive to introduce remarks in disability hearings, a study of sixty-seven transcripts from Social Security disability hearings conducted in three major U.S. cities found that Social Security ALJs in 72 % of the cases reviewed either gave no opening statement or gave an incomplete one. A review of these same transcripts shows that claimant representatives almost without exception declined to introduce their arguments and analyses.
Durston, Linda S. and Mills, Linda G.
"Toward a New Dynamic in Poverty Client Empowerment: The Rhetoric, Politics, and Therapeutics of Opening Statements in Social Security Disability Hearings,"
Yale Journal of Law & Feminism:
1, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol8/iss1/5