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Can I Get an Immediate Decision Following a Disability Hearing?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

b2ap3_thumbnail_disability-hearing-Chicago.jpgA Social Security Disability Insurance hearing is often a stressful experience for applicants. The hearing itself may not last long—in some cases a hearing is over in just 10 or 15 minutes. However, there may be a waiting period of several weeks afterwards while the administrative law judge (ALJ), the Social Security official in charge of the hearing, prepares a final written decision.

Getting a “Fully Favorable” Ruling

Still, it is possible to get an immediate oral ruling from the ALJ in some cases. These rulings, known as “bench decisions,” are only available under specific circumstances. First, a bench decision must be “fully favorable” to the applicant. In other words, the ALJ not only finds that you are legally disabled, but he or she also agrees with the date you said the disability began.

Second, bench decisions may only be made in adult disability cases. An ALJ cannot issue a bench decision in cases involving disabled children. Similarly, bench decisions are not available if the disability claim involves any kind of drug addiction or alcohol abuse. That is not to say a person cannot receive disability benefits for such impairments, only that they are not eligible for an expedited bench decision.

Finally, an ALJ may only render a bench decision where “no changes are required in the findings of fact or the reasons for the decision as stated at the hearing.” The bench decision is given orally at the hearing, but it must be followed up by a formal written decision. The latter therefore cannot contain any facts or reasons that contradict the hearing record.

How Can I Get a Bench Decision?

There is no guarantee that an ALJ will issue a bench decision or even find in your favor. But you can help maximize your chances of obtaining a “fully favorable” outcome if you work with an experienced Chicago Social Security Disability attorney. An attorney can make sure you submit all of the relevant facts and evidence to the ALJ in the proper format. Details matter when it comes to disability cases. Social Security has a massive backlog of disability claims—more than a million cases as of 2016—and it does not help when applicants present incomplete or disorganized arguments. There is a precise checklist the ALJ must go through before awarding your disability benefits. Anything you can to do to make the ALJ's job easier in this regard will go a long way to getting your claim approved. If you are disabled and unable to work, you cannot afford to sit around and do nothing. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today to get help in preparing your Social Security case.



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