Saturday, February 02, 2008

How long to get a Decision from an ALJ (for Social Security Disability or SSI)

Regarding the time it takes to receive a decision from an ALJ, or administrative law judge, this used to be, several years ago, an easier question to deal with.

The truth is, at this point, there's really no way to know. Here's why. After you have your social security disability hearing (that's a generic phrase by the way that applies to social security disability and SSI hearings), the decision letter has to be compiled.

However, this is not done by the judge. It is done by a decision writer. And decision writers, like most jobs that make up the disability personnel infrastructure, are backed up with more work than they can presently handle.

How long does it take to get a decision from an ALJ? It may take a few weeks. It may take a few months...even if the administrative law judge indicates at the hearing that your case will be paid (approved for disability).

What's the worst case scenario? I've personally seen cases where a notice of decision had not been received a year after a disability hearing.

What should you do if you have already had your disability hearing and you have not gotten a decision, though several months have passed? You should call the hearing office and inquire into the status of the case. If you have a disability attorney representing your case, their office should make the call for you.

However, do not let an inordinate amount of time pass beyond your hearing date. That is, don't keep waiting month after month for a decision and assume that everything is ok. If its been "a while" since your hearing, call the hearing office or have your lawyer do it. Because the unfortunate reality is that, on occasion, the hearing office does drop the ball.

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