How long does it take a disability judge to make a decision?

How long will it be for a Social Security Disability SSI hearing decision?

Social Security strives to keep claims processing to a minimum; however, it does not set a limit for processing or the time it allows for an administrative law judge to make their ruling.

So, even if the judge at the hearing tells the disability lawyer they will pay the case, meaning they have decided then and there to approve it, or even if the ALJ (administrative law judge) states that a decision should be made within 30 days, that doesn't mean the judge is actually required to get the notice of decision to the claimant within any specific amount of time.

On average, it seems to take about eight to twelve weeks for an individual to receive a notice of decision following their disability hearing. And the vast majority should have received a decision within six months. However, there have been outlier cases in which the decision time is over nine months.

Sometimes, of course, the judge requires additional medical or vocational information prior to making a disability decision and this may cause additional time to process.

But'in addition to rendering a decision on a claim heard at a hearing, there is another factor that adds to potential delays.

Once the judge makes a decision or ruling, the decision is sent to decision writers, who actually write the decision. Once they have the decision written, it is sent back to the judge for a final review, and then it is sent to the payment center for processing if the decision is an approval for disability benefits.

If the case is denied, it is sent back to the field office to process.

It does take some time to do all of this and it may seem even longer if your disability hearing results in an approval.

As stated above, disability approvals are sent to the payment center for processing, and they have to calculate your potential disability back payment and pay your representative if you have one.

You may receive a letter stating that you have been approved from the Social Security hearings office, but it still takes time to receive any monies owed you. This can make it seem like the judge has taken an inordinate amount of time to make their 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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