Most claimants feel a sense of relief after a disability hearing. They have submitted all the relevant medical evidence, attended doctor visits and followed treatment, and prepared for the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) line of questioning. In an ideal situation, the ALJ reaches a favorable decision at the end of the hearing.
However, the reality is that claimants often leave without knowing the outcome of their case. Fortunately, there are signs that may indicate your hearing went well.
Our Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers have many years of experience representing claimants at disability hearings after not being approved at earlier stages of the appeals process. We are ready to advocate on your behalf to help obtain the disability benefits you need. The initial consultation is free of charge.
Here 24/7 to take your call: 1-800-503-2000
Medical Expert Says You Meet a Listed Impairment
If the medical expert at your disability hearing says your condition meets or equals a listed impairment, this is a good qualifier for benefits. Meeting a listing means that you are found disabled at step three of the Social Security Administration’s disability evaluation process (there are five steps in total).
At most disability hearings, you can also expect the ALJ to ask detailed questions about your condition and how it affects your work and relationships with loved ones. If the ALJ does not ask a lot of questions, this may be a good indicator that the ALJ has sufficient medical evidence to make a favorable decision.
Vocational Expert’s Testimony Supports Your Claim
A vocational expert may attend a disability hearing when claimants do not meet or equal a listed impairment. It is not uncommon for the ALJ to have a vocational expert answer a hypothetical question. If the vocational expert says there are no jobs that you could perform – including your past work – this may be a good indicator that the ALJ will deem you disabled and award you benefits.
At some disability hearings, the ALJ may not involve a vocational expert or ask him or her to provide testimony. This may not be a bad thing. In fact, it often means that the ALJ thinks the existing medical evidence is substantial and supports the severity of your condition to be deemed disabled.
ALJ Issues a Bench Decision at Your Hearing
In certain cases, the ALJ may issue a bench decision. The ALJ informs you that your claim has been successful and that you can expect to receive a written decision within a few days after the hearing. Bench decisions are generally granted based on exceptional preparation and consistent testimony.
If a bench decision is not made, it is important not to take the ALJ’s demeanor as an indicator of the outcome of your claim. You should also never assume whether a disability hearing went well based on how the ALJ behaved with you. However, if you think the ALJ was biased against you or that your hearing was handled unfairly, a lawyer can file a complaint with the Division of Quality Service.
What if It Takes a While to Hear a Disability Decision?
On average, it takes about two to three months to receive a decision after a disability hearing is held. The time it takes to go through the disability hearing process is not an indicator of success or failure.
It may take a while for all the medical evidence submitted to be evaluated. You may have a complex condition that requires the ALJ to spend more time reviewing your case. There are a number of factors that may be involved. There may be a backlog of other cases that prolongs the decision-making phase.
Once you do receive a notice of a decision from the ALJ, it is important to read it carefully. It will disclose if you were approved or denied disability and include the reason for this determination.
Receiving a Fully vs. Partially Favorable Decision
Should you be approved for benefits, you will receive a fully favorable or partially favorable decision.
A fully favorable decision means that the ALJ approved your claim with the alleged onset date that you asked for (the date you claim you became disabled when you filed for benefits).
A partially favorable decision means that the ALJ approved your claim but does not agree with the alleged onset date you asked for. He or she will give you a different onset date and modify any back payments owed. The change would not impact your monthly benefits moving forward.
If you are not approved for benefits or otherwise get an unfavorable decision, you have 60 days to ask the Appeals Council to review the hearing decision. A lawyer can help write the appeal on your behalf.
An Experienced Lawyer is Here to Represent You
Having an experienced lawyer by your side can help improve the outcome of your disability hearing. At Dayes Law Firm, we are ready to make sure that your disability hearing is held properly, and that you are well prepared to answer questions about your condition.
We are available anytime, day or night, to take your call. An initial consultation is free of charge, and there are no upfront costs while we work on your case. We only get paid if we help you win benefits.
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