Why does it take So Long to receive my Hearing Decision?

Posted July 8, 2016 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

A claimant filing for Social Security Disability benefits has likely been waiting years for a decision by the time their hearing has concluded.  At this stage, a claimant has been denied twice[1] by SSA and is simply ready to be done.  Unfortunately, some claimants will be required to wait multiple months for a formal decision from the Administrative Law Judge who presided over their case.  Below are a few reasons a hearing decision may take an extended period of time to be issued.

The Writing of the Opinion

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is required to formalize his or her findings into a written decision detailing why they feel the claimant is or is not disabled.  This determination must be well supported by specific medical evidence and must be consistent with Social Security law.  If the ALJ fails to properly meet their burden of explaining how they arrived at their determination then their decision is vulnerable to review by the Appeals Council.  This decision writing process can delay the decision for multiple months.

The Backlog of Hearing Decisions

Another issue contributing to a delay in hearing decisions is the fact that there is a backlog of both pending hearings and pending hearing decisions.  For example, data shows that hearing offices in the state of California have approximately 94,000 hearing cases pending and only 32 decisions are being rendered daily.[2]   The bottom line is that there are not enough decisions going out to keep up with the number of claims coming in.  This ultimately contributes to the delay in hearing decisions.

Post Hearing Development

An ALJ may require a claimant to attend what is known as a consultative examination (CE) after their hearing is conducted if they feel the evidence is insufficient to make a decision.  The ALJ may also send additional questions called interrogatories to a Medical or Vocational Expert for the purpose of obtaining additional expert testimony.  This can serve to delay the issuance of a decision since the ALJ must wait for either the CE Report to come back or they must wait for the interrogatory response to return.  It is worth noting that this post hearing development can actually support a Claimant’s disability.  However, it often is the primary reason for delay in their decision.

[1] Unless the claimant resides in a prototype state.

[2] https://premierdisability.com/state-hearing-information/

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Srevices, LLC®