After how long people wait for their disability hearings, many are surprised to hear that the decision on whether or not they are approved is issued in writing after the hearing. While in rare cases, the administrative law judge (ALJ) will provide an indication that he or she will be issuing a favorable decision, it is most common to have no indication of what the decision will be at the time of your hearing.
Occasionally, an ALJ will issue a “bench decision”. When an ALJ issues a bench decision, he or she indicates on the record that a favorable decision will be issued. Immediately following the hearing, he or she will read the favorable decision into the record. If, following the hearing, issues arise or the decision needs to be changed, the ALJ must issue a full-length decision. Bench decisions have become much less common over time.
The majority of hearings are brought to a close with a statement by the ALJ indicating that a written decision will be made and mailed to you and your representative. The ALJ indicates in writing what the determination is and where the evidence is to support his or her decision. The decision is then written by a decision writer, then sent back to the ALJ for signature. The office of hearings operations (OHO) will then forward the decision to the local Social Security office, who will send it to you, your representative, and a payment center if approved.
The wait time for hearing decisions varies from area to area, ranging from weeks to months. There is no time limit on ALJs to issue decisions.
If you have questions about your case or the OHO in your area, please speak with your representative.
Written 31 Jan. 2018
Representative Emily Olson