How long does a Social Security Disability judge have to make a ruling?

How long will it be for the disability judge to decide?

My own experience is two-fold. As a disability examiner, I learned how long disability claims can take when they are being worked on at the disability application level and at the reconsideration appeal level. And working in disability representation, I learned that judges can take quite a long time to make a decision after a disability hearing.

However, even after the hearing decision has been made by a judge, it can still take very long to actually get the decision since a decision writer has to take of the actual hearing notice of decision. And decision writers at hearing offices usually have backlogs to deal with, just as most administrative law judges do.

So, the short answer is this: there is no time-limit for a decision from a judge. Judges can get decisions out somewhat quickly, within three months. However, I have personally seen cases in which nine months had gone by and no decision had been received by a claimant. In such situations, it can sometimes be helpful for a claimant to have their disability representative or disability lawyer contact the hearing office to see what the delay is.

All this said, how long can you expect it take to receive a decision from a Social Security judge after a hearing has been held?

On average, roughly half of all claimants should receive a decision notice within the first three months following the hearing. And of those, a significant percentage will have received a notice of decision within the first two months following the hearing. And probably by 6 months after a disability hearing, the majority of claimants should have received a notice of decision.

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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