What is an on the record decision for a Social Security Disability or SSI case?

"On the record decisions" occur after a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge has been made. And they happen in two basic ways. In some instances, a hearing office staff attorney will initiate an on the record review of a case that is pending a hearing date. In other instances, an attorney or non attorney claimant's representative will request an on the record review.

First off-- What is an on the record decision? Well, there's only kind of on the record decision and that's favorable. If an OTR review is done and no decision is made to pay a claim based on such a review, the hearing request process will continue to move forward, meaning that the claimant will still eventually be granted a hearing date.

Second-- Why are requests for on the record reviews made? When it's fairly apparent, based on a review of medical evidence, that a claimant's condition is disabling according to Social Security eligibility standards.

Favorable decisions that result from on the record reviews are, without question, wonderful news to disability claimants, because, in many cases, they can eliminate months of unnecessary waiting for a disability hearing.

On the flip side, of course, on the record approvals display in full view the failures of SSA when it comes to properly adjudicating disability claims---because if a claimant's case is strong enough to be approved "on the record", why was it denied at the prior level (the first appeal step)?

Definition page for on the record decisions

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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