Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?

What happens at most social security disability hearings is that the claimant and their representative (assuming they are represented by a disability attorney or a non-attorney claimant's representative) will participate in the hearing proceedings for as little as ten minutes and perhaps as long as an hour and, then, after the hearing has been concluded, both parties will wait a number of weeks to receive the administrative law judge's notice of decision, followed by a notice of award from the social security office if the case has been approved by the judge.

The notice of decision comes in three flavors:

1. Fully favorable - Meaning that the judge agrees with the disability onset date alleged by the claimant at the time of filing the disability claim;

2. Partially favorable - Meaning that the judge has found that the claimant meets the social security administration definition of disability and can be considered disabled, but the judge, however, does not agree with the onset date alleged by the claimant and has concluded that the claimant became disabled at a later point in time (disability lawyers will argue for the earliest possible onset date because this has a direct effect on how much back pay may be awarded to the claimant).

3. Unfavorable - This one should be self-explanatory. In these cases, the judge has evaluated the medical and vocational evidence and has determined that the claimant's condition is either non-severe, or is severe but not severe enough to last twelve months (this is a durational denial), or is severe but not severe enough to rule out the claimant's ability to go back to their past work or perform some type of other work activity.

Question: Will the adminstrative law judge, i.e the disability judge, ever give you a decision on the spot, at the hearing?

And the answer is, yes, sometimes the ALJ will do this. When this happens, it is known as a bench decision. The judge will announce the decision to the claimant and their representative at the hearing and the formal written version of the decision will follow in the mail.

Why do some cases receive bench decisions while others do not? Good presentation of a well-prepared case probably makes all the difference in receiving an immediate bench decision. The claimant's disability attorney submitting a well organized brief to the judge prior to the hearing date helps as well. What is a hearing brief? Think of it as a synopsis of the case elements along with a rationale for approving the disability case.

A disability attorney who submits a brief to an Administrative Law Judge for a social security disability or SSI claim is intent on demonstrating to the judge two things: A) why it is that the case should be approved and B) saving time for all parties, including the judge, which is reason enough to submit the brief, but also in doing so, it may save valuable time for the claimant whose finances are on the rope, so to speak.

The submission of a pre-hearing brief also indicates that a disability lawyer has a firm belief in the merits of the case and this fact is probably not lost on the judge who receives the brief.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Presenting evidence at a social security disability or SSI hearing
How Long Does It Take To Get The Results Of A Disability Hearing?
Do Most People Have To Go To A Disability Hearing in order to Get Approved For Disability?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?
Social Security Disability Hearings - What is the ALJ

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria