What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
What happens at most social security disability hearings is that the claimant and their representative (assuming they are represented by a disability attorney or a non-attorney claimant's representative) will participate in the hearing proceedings for as little as ten minutes and perhaps as long as an hour and, then, after the hearing has been concluded, both parties will wait a number of weeks to receive the administrative law judge's notice of decision, followed by a notice of award from the social security office if the case has been approved by the judge.
The notice of decision comes in three flavors:
1. Fully favorable - Meaning that the judge agrees with the disability onset date alleged by the claimant at the time of filing the disability claim;
2. Partially favorable - Meaning that the judge has found that the claimant meets the social security administration definition of disability and can be considered disabled, but the judge, however, does not agree with the onset date alleged by the claimant and has concluded that the claimant became disabled at a later point in time (disability lawyers will argue for the earliest possible onset date because this has a direct effect on how much back pay may be awarded to the claimant).
3. Unfavorable - This one should be self-explanatory. In these cases, the judge has evaluated the medical and vocational evidence and has determined that the claimant's condition is either non-severe, or is severe but not severe enough to last twelve months (this is a durational denial), or is severe but not severe enough to rule out the claimant's ability to go back to their past work or perform some type of other work activity.
Question: Will the adminstrative law judge, i.e the disability judge, ever give you a decision on the spot, at the hearing?
And the answer is, yes, sometimes the ALJ will do this. When this happens, it is known as a bench decision. The judge will announce the decision to the claimant and their representative at the hearing and the formal written version of the decision will follow in the mail.
Why do some cases receive bench decisions while others do not? Good presentation of a well-prepared case probably makes all the difference in receiving an immediate bench decision. The claimant's disability attorney submitting a well organized brief to the judge prior to the hearing date helps as well. What is a hearing brief? Think of it as a synopsis of the case elements along with a rationale for approving the disability case.
A disability attorney who submits a brief to an Administrative Law Judge for a social security disability or SSI claim is intent on demonstrating to the judge two things: A) why it is that the case should be approved and B) saving time for all parties, including the judge, which is reason enough to submit the brief, but also in doing so, it may save valuable time for the claimant whose finances are on the rope, so to speak.
The submission of a pre-hearing brief also indicates that a disability lawyer has a firm belief in the merits of the case and this fact is probably not lost on the judge who receives the brief.
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Topics and Questions
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials