Few Social Security disability applications are approved of at the initial level. When a claimant is denied disability benefits, he or she can appeal the decision, disagreeing with the government's determination. After several denials, a claimant may find him or herself in front of an administrative law judge. The judge will ultimately rule whether the claimant is medically disabled.
One outcome of a judge's ruling is that you are issued a "partially favorable decision." In other words, the judge agrees with you that you are or were disabled, but does not completely agree with your initial argument for disability. Typically, a partially favorable decision will result in the approval of Social Security disability benefits with a different onset of disability from the alleged date. This means the judge did not award the claimant the full back benefit award.
Many claimants immediately file an appeal of the judge's partially favorable decision with the hope of obtaining the full back benefit award. Appealing the judge's favorable decision is a risky move. The Appeals Council has the authority to rule contrary to the judge's opinion and find that the claimant is not at all disabled. This is a major risk a claimant takes when filing an appeal of a partially favorable decision.
If you had a hearing before an administrative law judge and received a partially favorable decision, we strongly encourage you to seek out the advice of an experienced Social Security disability attorney before appealing. There is a lot at stake and much to lose appealing the judge's decision on your own. Every claimant is in a different situation financially and medically and each case is completely unique. For the following reasons we suggest that you do not take the decision to appeal a partially favorable decision lightly.