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On the record review and my SSDI case

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have heard that it could take months or years to get a disability hearing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I also heard it might be possible to request an on the record review. I am wondering what that means and whether it is a good idea.”

What is an on the record review?

Many claimants do not realize that millions of workers apply for SSDI benefits each year. Due to a variety of reasons- lack of staffing, application levels, underfunding- it can take months or even year to have your case reviewed by a judge at the administrative court level.

With this in mind, many claimants opt to have their case reviewed through an expedited process called an on the record (OTR) review. Claimants who choose this method provide written information to the judge which the judge can review without a scheduled hearing simply by reviewing the claimant’s written application.

Can I request an on the record review?

Yes, if your case has been denied and is pending a court hearing you can request an on the record review. In fact, if you would like a review you will need to request it immediately after you file for an administrative hearing and your case has been assigned to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR)- which is the office responsible for scheduling all of the disability hearings.

Now you asked if you should request an on the record review. Without more specifics regarding your case it is impossible to say for sure, but there are several benefits. For example, an on the record review may potentially expedite a decision for your SSDI case, and even if you are denied through the process, your case will continue to the hearing level and you will still be able to argue your case before a judge.

Next, if the OTR request results in a disability decision you can avoid a hearing. Although this is not a significant benefit to some claimants, many claimants do not want to appear in court and try to argue their case.

Should I hire a lawyer if I am going to request an on the record review?

Claimants may choose not to hire a disability lawyer to write the on the record brief or they may write it on their own. They can even hire a company to write your brief for them. But regardless of whether you decide to hire a company or you choose to request an OTR review on your own, you will need to understand the process and what needs to be included in the request to improve your chances of approval.

Information for your on the record request

The on the record request is a short brief which includes information about why you believe you should be awarded SSDI benefits. General information such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number must be included. Additionally, you will need to include information about your case, what benefits you are filing to receive, and the onset date of your disability (the date your disability started).

The most important information to include in your OTR, however, is medical evidence. The judge will be looking for overwhelming evidence of disability and medical documentation which proves you do not have the ability to work.

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