by Tim Moore. Free Case Evaluation here. An ALJ, or administrative law judge, at a…
The answer to this question is not set in stone, and it tends to change over time depending on how large the backlogs are at the various disability hearing offices in North Carolina (such as the hearing offices in Raleigh NC, Greensboro NC, and Fayetteville, NC).
An NC disability hearing will typically take about 11 1/2 months to get scheduled from the time that it is been requested, either by the claimant, or by their disability representative.
Oddly enough, the extraordinary amount of time that it takes to get to a hearing is juxtaposed to the fact that the hearing itself may only take between 10 and 30 minutes.
How long it takes to get the decision from the hearing will depend on these following factors:
1. Obviously, how long it took you to get to your hearing in the first place. As we stated, this can take a year or longer.
2. Whether or not the judge issued a “bench decision”. When a bench decision takes place, the judge will inform you and your disability representative that the case been approved. A bench decision, among other things, makes it easier for the judge to get the decision finalized.
3. If the judge does not give you a bench decision, then the amount of time it takes for you to receive your decision may largely depend on how backed up the hearing office decision-writers are.
What do we mean by this? While judges make decisions for disability hearings in North Carolina, the decision document is actually compiled by a decision-writer at the hearing office, who may be a hearing office employee who is a staff attorney.
It is not unusual for a person who is awarded benefits by an ALJ, or administrative law judge, to have to wait several months after the hearing has taken place to actually receive their official notice of decision.
If you have gone to a hearing and have not received a decision in several weeks or months, and you were represented at the hearing, you may ask your disability representative to follow up on the status of your case.
Note: there are instances in which a judge will not issue a bench decision, but will still notify the claimant and their disability representative at the hearing that they will award benefits. Very often, the claimant will be left with the impression that they will receive their decision letter within a few weeks, or just 30 days.
Please keep in mind that this does not always happen. Sometimes, apparently, judges will assume that the decision-writers at the hearing office will be able to get the decision document out in the mail quicker than actually takes place. Again, you can always have your disability representative do a status follow up for you to determine where your case is in the “pipeline”.