When your disability hearing concludes, arm yourself with patience and do not expect a quick turnaround by the Administrative Law Judge when rendering a decision in your case. Many people become very anxious or worried during the wait to receive the hearing decision in writing. This is totally understandable since the wait is forcing you to live in a state of uncertainty about your financial future, during which time you are also of course still struggling with your disabling health issues.
The reality is that most courts and hearings offices move at their own pace and, unfortunately, many have a fairly large backlog of cases. This is why you should prepare yourself to not receive a decision from the Social Security Administration hearings office for weeks, or even months after your hearing took place (there is actually no time limit on how long the judge can take in issuing a decision). In addition, a formal decision could potentially be delayed after the conclusion of a hearing if the Administrative Law Judge “holds the record open” after the hearing to receive more medical records from your medical treatment providers or the report of a doctor hired by Social Security to perform a post-hearing medical exam.
What Generally Happens After Your Hearing is Over
When your disability hearing is over, your file will remain at the Office of Hearings Operations until the Administrative Law Judge renders a decision, either approving, partially approving or denying your benefits.
Once the Administrative Law Judge renders a decision, a formal Notice of Decision will be sent to you in the mail, and your disability file will be sent back to the local Social Security office that originally received your benefits application, and or to a benefits processing center.
What Happens If the Administrative Law Judge Denies Your Application for Benefits
If your disability claim is denied by the Administrative Law Judge, the Notice of Decision denying your benefits will be accompanied by instructions on how to appeal the denial of benefits if you choose to do so.
If you decide to pursue an appeal, you will need to file a formal appeal with the Social Security Administration, Appeals Council, within 60 days of the decision denial date.
What Happens If the Administrative Law Judge Approves Your Application for Benefits
If your disability claim is approved by the Administrative Law Judge, and it includes an award of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will be contacted by a representative from your local Social Security Office for a “PERC” appointment, a financial interview similar to the one you had at the time of your initial benefit application. They will determine from the information they gather at that appointment how much SSI you will be paid on a monthly basis (taking into consideration your household income and assets, and any Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) for which you may also be eligible). If your award of benefits includes Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), one of the national payments centers will calculate and process those benefits (based on your PIA, or primary insurance amount, calculated from the payments you made into your Social Security account while you were employed).
You will thereafter be sent a Notice of Award letter from the SSI and or SSDI programs, advising you of how much your retroactive benefits and ongoing monthly benefits will be, how they calculated these amounts, when you should expect the benefits to start, and information about Medicaid and or Medicare eligibility.
Have Questions? Speak to Attorney Sara J. Frankel today
As you can see, a disability hearing is only the beginning of what can be an emotionally draining and complex legal process. The “not knowing” aspect of the process and simply having to wait until the hearing office formalizes and releases the written decision can be difficult for many people, which is why it is important to have an advocate on your side who can help provide answers and guidance. Sara J. Frankel is an experienced and respected disability benefits attorney that has been proudly serving southeastern Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island communities since 1996. She previously worked as a staff attorney with the Social Security Administration and has extensive knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations governing disability benefits. Contact Law Offices of Sara J. Frankel and Associates for a free consultation today.