What is the time frame for a judge to make a decision for a disability hearing?

Social Security administrative law judges have no time frame in which to make their disability hearing decision. Generally, they do not write their case decisions. Most disability decisions are written by decision writers; considering the backlog of hearings across the nation, it is probably more productive to use decision writers rather than bog judges down with decision writing. Their time is better spent hearing disability cases.

Once a disability hearing has taken place, the judge provides his decision and the basis of his determination to a decision writer. The decision writer formulates a written disability hearing decision. Once they complete the written hearing decision, they send it to the judge for a review.

The judge makes any necessary corrections and returns it to the decision writer for completion. After completion, the hearing decision is sent to a payment center for adjudication. As you might imagine this process can take some time.

In the past, there have been times when disability applicants did not receive their hearing decision for a year or more. Sometimes their disability representative was at fault for not providing medical evidence promised at the hearing, which caused the disability claim to be on hold. While at other times, necessary evidence was provided and in file, but hearing office personnel were not aware of it.

Whatever the reason, hearing decisions were sometimes lost in the shuffle. A lot of this has changed with the advent of the electronic disability claim process. Moving to electronic disability folders allowed Social Security to keep better track of all disability cases, which has led to more timely processing of disability claims at all levels including the disability hearing level.

If you have not received your written hearing decision within ninety days of your disability hearing, you should check the status of your disability case. You can do this by contacting the disability hearing office responsible for your case. They most likely will not give your disability hearing decision, however they can tell you if a decision has been made. Security hearings offices process thousands of disability claims each year--because of the enormous workloads at hearing's offices across the nation it is not unusual for some hearing decisions to be delayed or misplaced.

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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