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How Long Do I Have to Wait After an Administrative Hearing to Get My Disability Payments?

You’ve travelled down the arduous paper trial in filing for Social Security disability benefits. You prepared everything carefully and submitted your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim for approval. You’ve waited almost six months to get an answer, only to be told no. What do you do now?

According to statistics, it’s common for most applicants to be denied the first go around. You’ll receive a letter of denial that includes instructions how to appeal the denial. Appealing the first denial is called reconsideration. This may be submitted, in most cases, online, but you must do it within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. This process can take another three to five months. Unfortunately, national averages show that only 10 to 15 percent of denials are reversed at this level.

If your reconsideration is denied, you have the right, again within 60 days, to appeal by filing a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and an Appeal Disability Report. This is the stage you’ll need good legal support for, because you are entering the world of legal bureaucracy and proceedings. Depending on your local court’s backlog, you may have to wait as long as a year to appear before an ALJ. The good news is, though, at this level your chances of approval dramatically improve. National statistics show that as many as 75 percent of claimants are approved for disability.

Every ALJ hearing is different, but there are some things you can reasonably expect. In the courtroom will be the ALJ, a person for recording all details about the proceedings called the clerk, you and your lawyer and possibly a doctor for reading and interpreting your medical records for the court. This doctor will offer his opinion about your level of disability as it relates to your claim. Also present may be a psychologist or psychiatrist to rule on mental health-centered claims. There will probably also be a vocational specialist that can give opinions about jobs you could do, even with your disability. You’ll have the opportunity to plea your case to the ALJ, and after the hearing, you’ll be informed in writing what the decision is.

The ALJ may write their own decision, or it may get passed along to a decision writer that works for the judge. There are backlogs of cases, and depending upon how big that backup is, you could wait from 30 days to six months to receive your ALJ decision.  This is providing all information required to close your administrative record is available. It is essential to have all documents, medical records and other pertinent paperwork filed before your hearing begins.