What Happens After My Disability Hearing?
It could take several months to two years before a claimant has their social security disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Even after the hearing is over, it can be very frustrating finding out that they have to continue to wait after their hearing is over. Why do I have to wait? Well, it’s because the case moves into “post-hearing review.”
The Post-Hearing Review
Most Judges will not tell you if you won or not at your hearing. It is very uncommon for an ALJ to inform the claimant that they have won their case on the day of the hearing. In most cases, the ALJ will conclude the hearing, and the claim will enter a period called “post-hearing review.”
During post-hearing review, the ALJ will consider all the evidence that has been submitted, the arguments made by the attorney, as well as the testimony from the claimant. The ALJ may also take additional steps to develop the claim, such as ask for additional evidence, or send the claimant for a consultative examination with a doctor paid for by the the Social Security Administration. This post-hearing period will also give the attorney the opportunity to make additional legal arguments based on any new evidence offered after the disability hearing.
So How Long Do You Have To Wait? How Long is Post-Hearing Review?
How long the post-hearing review period lasts will vary, but typically claimants will wait 2-4 months before they receive the ALJ’s decision in the mail. There are three potential ALJ decisions:
Fully Favorable Decision
Partially Favorable Decision
A "fully favorable decision" means that the ALJ has agreed that the claimant is disabled as of the alleged onset date on their application. For example, lets say the claimant alleges their disability began on 1/1/2018, if the ALJ finds them disabled beginning on 1/1/2018, they will have received a fully favorable decision. In a “partially favorable decision” the ALJ has agreed that the claimant is disabled, but has decided that the evidence supports a later onset date than what was alleged by the claimant. Considering the previous example, if the claimant alleges their disability began on 1/1/2018, but the ALJ finds that their disability began on 6/1/2018, the ALJ has just rendered a partially favorable decision. This usually means that the claimant will lose out on some back pay, but will still be entitled to ongoing monthly benefits. An “unfavorable decision” means the ALJ found that the claimant is not entitled to disability benefits at all. If a claim is unfavorable, the claimant can appeal that decision to the Appeals Council or elect to file a brand new application.