How long does a disability judge have to make a decision?

How long does a disability judge have to make a decision?

So, let's start first with disability decisions from disability examiners. Is there a deadline that they have for making a disability application decision? No, there isn't. That's actually because if examiners were required to make decisions before they have received all the medical evidence they need, or before they could get the results of a consultative medical exam that someone was sent to, this would not be in the best interests of the person filing for disability benefits.

Now, how long does a disability judge have to make a decision? It's essentially the same answer. Administrative law judges at hearings do not have deadlines. Again, this benefits applicants, but it also has the effect of people sometimes having to wait a very long time for an answer on their case after a hearing has been held.

If there is no actual deadline, is there a time frame after the AJL hearing for a disability decision?

No, there really isn't a timeframe. Again, it depends on the hearing office and their backlog levels, and it also depends on the judge and his/her caseload and the speed at which that judge normally works.

It also depends on the decision writers who work at the hearing office. Those individuals compile the actual decision documents and they, just as judges, are subject to backlog situations.

A decision by a judge can take weeks or months, but there's no way to know how long. Again, if you had a disability representative at the hearing, they might be familiar enough with the hearing office and judge to give you an estimate, but it would just be an estimate.

What can you do if it seems you have waiting a very long time for an answer? Have your disability attorney contact the hearing office for a status check. If you were not represented, this is something you can also do yourself.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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