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How long will I wait to get a Social Security disability hearing decision and what should I do while I wait?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  854 Comments

Learn how long you will wait for a Social Security Disability hearing date and a decision, and what you can do to help your appeal while you wait.

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Watch the Video: “How long will I wait to get a Social Security disability hearing decision and what should I do while I wait?”

Waiting for a Disability Hearing Date and Decision

A Social Security hearing with an Administrative Law Judge is the second level of appeal. You can request a hearing if your reconsideration has been denied or only partially approved. Your request for hearing will be processed by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, commonly called the hearing office.
The Social Security Administration said that the average number of days it took to process a request for hearing in 2011 was 491. That’s seventy weeks or sixteen and a half months. A relatively small part of that time occurs after the hearing, when the Administrative Law Judge writes up his decision. How long it takes to get a hearing date and/or how long it takes the judge to render a decision after the hearing depends on the number of hearings being filed at that time and the complexity of your own claim. If the judge wants additional medical information, either before or after the hearing, it can lengthen processing time.

Supporting Your Disability Appeal While Waiting

While you are waiting for your hearing to be held, there are a few things you can do to help your claim: Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice, including keeping requested appointments and filling your prescriptions on time. Advise your doctors that you have filed a hearing. If you have changes in your health, or you have a vocational assessment or new medical testing, tell your attorney or the hearing office right away. Also report any changes in your work activity or address.

If you do not already have professional representation, don’t wait till the last minute to hire an lawyer who is experienced with Social Security Disability law and disability hearings. Your attorney can start work on gathering everything needed for your hearing as soon as it is filed. For information about what happens at a Social Security hearing, please see our article “What Is a Social Security Disability Hearing and What Can I Expect When I Request a Disability Hearing?” For additional information on the value of having a lawyer for your Social Security Disability hearing, see “How Can a Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me Get Social Security Benefits?”

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  • Published: 7 months ago on March 3, 2016
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  • Last Modified: March 4, 2016 @ 4:05 pm
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854 Comments

  1. Tyler Foster says:

    My husband filed for disability in Jan 2013. In December 2015 he had his hearing. Fast forward to July 2016 we still had no decision. I guess the judge requested additional documents, and our lawyer was not on top of it (2 lawyers we had from the office we went with quit since we filed, and as of now we have no lawyer and have not had one since April. One of the ladies in the office said she would monitor the mail for anything for us and let us know). Finally the end of July the judge got the paper, which we believe is the paper our family doctor filled out for child support stating my husband is unable to work and he doesn’t forsee that ever changing. It took about a week since the paper arrived at his office for him to render a decision. We don’t know what it is, as it’s just now being send to the decision writers but can anyone tell us if any of this sounds familiar in their case and what our chances are on getting approved? It’s been 8 months since our hearing.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tyler,

      I can’t predict whether your husband will be approved or not. The situation with the attorney firm is somewhat unusual.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  2. michael says:

    Hi Kay,
    I just heard from my Lawyer that the judge made a decision in my SSDI case. I am 51 and my disability started March of 2013. I didn’t file for SSDI though until Feb 2015 though. The judge asked twice when I stopped working due to my disability. I stated March 2013. I’ve not worked at all since that date due to my disability and have been going to the VA since March 2013 for therapy 5 days a week since then to present.
    Will my start date plus 5 months forward be March 2013 or Feb 2014 ?
    Also I have heard 2 different version on how they calculate your monthly SSDI amount. I have 33 total years of work history since 1983. Will they add all those years up and divide by 33 or go back my last 10 years of work ? Also if it makes a difference I am 100% total and permanent service conected. Thank you Michael

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michael,

      If the judge determines that you became disabled in March 2013, your benefits will begin to accrue September 2013. Your benefits are calculated based on all your earnings, not just the last ten years. Receiving VA compensation will not affect the calculation of your Social Security benefit.

      Sincerely,
      Kayu

  3. Tonya Crownshaw says:

    Hi Kay.
    Everyone I talked to said they knew there decision before they left the Court room, yet the judge just told me he has to goo over all my paperwork and etc then he will make a decision. I have severe anxiety, paranoia. Ptsd, and bipolar disorder. The vocational rep said there are no jobs for me. Duo you think I have a chAnce?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tonya,

      Most hearing decisions are not made and revealed at the hearing. If after the judge reviews your claim file, he determines that you are as limited as you claim, the vocational expert’s opinion should result in an approval.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  4. Tracina Cavins says:

    I have been unable to work since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. I am cancer free now but unfortunately the chemotherapy has left me with many other physical issues. I do have an attorney working for me and my claim has been denied 3 times. We are now going to have to go in front of a judge and then it could take another 3 months to get a decision. My attorney has been in shock as she says my medical file is the biggest one she has and all of my Doctors have all said I am unable to work at this time. So now I am at a point where being a single mom I am completely broke. Family and friends have helped all they can. I am going to lose my home soon and my sister who lives 2 hours away in another state has offered her very large home for my children and I to come and live in. We both feel the stress of money has inhibited my ability to get better. My question I guess is will I have to start a new case in the state I move to or with Social Security being federal will it be okay if I have to move? I can’t let me and my children be homeless and still sitting around waiting for them to make a decision because they could easily deny it again and then I’m more in debit. What would be your advice to me in regards to having to move and my case?

    Sincerely,
    Tracina Cavins

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tracina,

      Your appeal will still be pending even when you move to another state. It will be finished where it is or transferred to the hearing office near your new address. In making the decision, here are some things to consider:
      1. Based on his licensing, your attorney be able to represent you if you move out of state?
      2. Would you be able to travel back to your current state if the hearing had to be in the current jurisdiction?
      3. Would you be allowed to choose the jurisdiction?
      4. Would you be okay with a video hearing if the appeal had to be transferred?and you couldn’t travel to the hearing?

      You should be able to get answers to questions 1-3 from your attorney and/or the hearing office.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  5. Ron says:

    Hi Kay,

    I had to resign my position in October, 2014. I filed for disability in Feb. of 2015 in the state of Florida. I was denied and filed a reconsideration in April, 2015 – then a denial was given for this reconsideration in July, 2015. I immediately retained an attorney and a hearing was requested.

    Since July, 2015 I moved back to my home state due to issues with my mental status and my case was transferred to Louisville, KY. Today my case is in a “ready to schedule” status. The legal assistant with my attorney tells me that she is not familiar with this office so she can’t give me an approximate wait time. Is there an average time that a case can sit in this status?

    Thanks in advance – I appreciate anything you can tell me.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ron,

      I don’t know the answer to your question, but you are approaching getting a hearing date. Perhaps the legal assistant can tell you what it is in their area, which would provide some frame of reference.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  6. Martha says:

    I had my hearing on July 7, 2016 after being denied twice. I originally filed in January 2012. I have degenerative disc disease, PTSD, major depression and was diagnosed with RA in May 2014. I’m a nervous wreck waiting for the judges decision. I have been unable to work at all and have depended on the goodness of my sons to help me. During my hearing I was asked a few of the basic questions, and there was not a vocational specialist there. I just turned 59. Is is a good thing he asked so few questions or am I doomed to be denied?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Martha,

      I can’t say for sure, but the fact that the judge did not have a vocational expert (VE) present, together with your age and how you describe your conditions, leads me to think that the judge will approve your claim. If he does not, you may have grounds to appeal because no VE was called for testimony. If you have to appeal, I recommend that you hire an attorney versed in Social Security Disability appeals to file the appeal for you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Priscilla says:

      Hi. Didn’t know how to start a new post. I had a hearing on June 13, 2016. About 2 weeks ago the ssa office told me that the disability examiner agreed that I was disabled. My attorney states that the judge would approve my disability case due to the disability examiner agreeing that I am disabled. Is that true that I could be approved? The judge now has my case and is reviewing it. How long does it take for a judge to review and make a decision? Thank you

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Priscilla,

        Your attorney’s assessment is what should happen; however, you will not know for sure till you get the actual written decision, which could take the judge a couple months from when any post hearing evidence was submitted.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

        • Susan M Cook says:

          Didn’t know how to start new post but also have a question had a hearing on august 31 judge said I should have decision in 30 days if there are no delays do u think that means approval or denial

  7. Lauren says:

    Hi Kate,
    My husband applied for disability October of 2014, denied, denied then applied for hearing 2/2015. Borderline personality disorder, bipolar, PTSD…I think our chancing are good considering the severity of his disorders. The wait time however is excruciating, we are struggling financially to say the least. I’ve been watching the hearing wait time reports monthly, out of frustration I called social security to complain about the wait times and was told not to bother even looking at the report because their inaccurate. She told me not to expect a letter until 24 months after applying for a hearing…so upsetting. Is this true? One more question, what kind of time frame am I looking at from notification of your hearing to the actual hearing?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lauren,

      Depending on which hearing office serves you, the wait for hearing date is from twelve to twenty-four months. You will be notified of the hearing date approximately three weeks before the hearing. You can look up the average wait time for your office at https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html. In the meantime, stay under your doctor’s care and be sure that the hearing office has your medical records for the period of time between when you requested the hearing and when the hearing occurs.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Lauren says:

        Dear Kay,
        The link you shared is the report I’ve been looking at. A women from social security told me it’s not accurate, just assume 24 months even though my location says 18 months? Your thoughts ? Thanks for all your help and advice 🙂

  8. Michael says:

    I had my hearing on the 4th of August, I have a 100% disability from the va as of August 2012… At the end of my hearing the Judge did not ask the vocational expert anything at all. Is this a good sign for approval?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michael,

      The fact that the judge did not ask for vocational testimony could be a sign of an approval. If you are not approved, the lack of testimony could make good grounds for appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Michael Brennan says:

        I received my approval less than 5 weeks after hearing. It was my second hearing in front of a judge and this has gone on for 4 years.

        For all of you waiting just keep getting more medical evidence while you wait. Good luck to all and thanks for the hope Kay, it helped me get through with a little less anxiety. 🙂

  9. Robert says:

    I had a heart attack at work in August of 2013, after many attempts to return to work it was pretty obvious to me and my employers I could no longer do my job as I was. I was hospitalized several times with depression and anxiety issues and filled for disability in December of 2014. It was denied so I appealed the decision and it too was denied. I then hired an attorney to handle the appeal from there, I spent a month in a treatment facility and was diagnosed with bi-polor disorder, treatment resistant depression, and anxiety. I had a second heart attack in August of 2015 that the Dr. said was very close. I still haven’t heard anything about a hearng yet. I’ve lost my condo, my car was repossessed, my wife makes too much for medicare but not enough to get help from the ACA and we cant afford for me to go to the dr. or get my medications. Does it ever end?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robert,

      Try contacting the pharmaceutical company that makes your essential medications. Sometimes the company will provide a supply for free for a while. Some other sources for medication assistance can be found online. Try searching on the internet for “free medication programs.” Several sources will come up.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  10. Carisma says:

    Hello Kay I have a question my ssi case is at the alj office and I waited almost two years to get some answers a representative told me that I should be receiveing a letter from the judge soon on when my hearing date will be scheduled I’m only having this hearing because I lost my ssi two years ago because I missed a appointment with the judge now I’m trying to get it back ..the thing that I’m worried about is that a year after I lost my ssi I had to get a job I mean I had no other options but to find a job I was homeless and didn’t have to type of income will this affect me if I was to win my case plus I know there’s a certain limit you have to make from a gross income for ssi and they say you can’t go over the amount of 1130 but my earning wages are 8298 will I automatically be denied due to me working ? PLEASE HELP !

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Carisma,

      Please provide some additional information so I can respond.
      1. You wrote 8298 as your earnings. Is that a correct amount? If so, is it monthly or annually?
      2. Did you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD aka SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or both?

      Thank you,
      Kay

      • Carisma says:

        Dear Kay

        On my w-2 form from 2015 it says my annual wages are 8298 I applied for ssi my case just made it to the alj office so I’m going to have a hearing really soon I’m just scared because I feel like the judge might say I’m not disabled if they find out I had previous work related activities I had to work I was homeless with all of these health problems diabetes,asthma ,neuropathy ,and depression disorder I stopped working and my doctor wrote me a note after he examined me again stating I can’t engaged in gainful employment I don’t know if my chances are good anymore due to my past work I’ve waited so long and I just hope you can give me some advice on what I should do thank you Kay

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Carisma,

          The impact of your work on your claim depends on the pattern of the work. Gather your pay stubs together so that you can show the months in which you worked and how much you earned. You may have earned too little to have performed substantial gainful work or you may have worked for short enough period of time that your work will be treated as an unsuccessful work attempt.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

      • elizabeth booze says:

        hello… i cant find my answer to my question… i dont know where to look… i also have a new question… please help ty..my daughters desicion has been written up and sitting on the judges desk…her hearing was august 12th .3 days later the judge made a desicion, and has been written up waiting for the judge to sign it…since this was so fast, and she is 21 going for ssi and has strong medical evidence, which i explained in my last question that i cant find, is that a good sign??… is it true denials take longer to get the letter?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Elizabeth,

          Your question and my response have been posted. Scroll up to see it. The speed of the decision on any single claim is not an indicator of approval or denial. The judge has to give detailed rationale for either an approval or a denial. Also, if the judge is caught up the decision will come faster.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • elizabeth booze says:

            she was denied… saying not enough evidence… she has 10 yrs of psych records since she was 12.. letters from drs, tgerapists.. witnesses… RFC forms that say severe in every way… what else do they want… she just turned 22… when she heard that she as severe panic attack and almost had to call 911. 3 yrs we waited… the VE saod nothing she can d at all.. what could have went wrong… WE HAD EVERYTHING…

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Elizabeth,

            You can request an Appeals Council review, but I suggest that you discuss this with your attorney.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

    • Sanna Thomas says:

      Hi i am wondering what it means when you have a hearing in front of alj and the decision is sent back to local office. Is this a good thing?

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Sanna,

        It is possible that your claim was approved, but you should get the decision letter soon to know for sure. If you are approved applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and don’t hear from the office for a financial update interview within two weeks of when the file was forwarded to the office, I recommend you call to request an appointment.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  11. Jennifer says:

    Hi Kay-
    My daughters father had a massive heart attack in January 2014 and he has been denied disability twice. He does a have a lawyer and they have said for about 6 months that they are waiting on a court date that his case is in the judges chambers. I cant always trust what he says so, I was wondering if this sounded normal.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      The wait for a hearing date runs from twelve to twenty-four months depending on which hearing office with most at fifteen to eighteen months.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  12. Mike L. says:

    My hearing was back in Late February, the judge asked for additional medical records (received by ODAR within a month). 7 months (6 after medical records) seems way too long to make a decision. Is there a legal limit? I should have a right to a judgement by now if nothing else so that I can appeal it to the next level.

    I haven’t had a job since 2010… I can’t even get people to let me do an odd job here or there. I’ve been existing on so little even my recycled stuff is getting too worn down to continue using. If I can’t afford cleaning supplies soon, I’ll even lose my VASH(Sec8) housing. The little bit of cash I get from State and VA benefits just is not enough to exist on.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mike,

      Six months is outside the norm. There is no law, however, the guideline is sixty days. I suggest you call the hearing office to make sure no letter was sent. If not and if it is still awaiting the judge’s decision, ask whether there is a possibility that the claim has dropped off the judge’s radar and whether there is a way to call his or her attention to the fact that the post-hearing records were submitted six months ago. (Sometimes churches will provide one-time assistance; that could be a source for cleaning supplies. Alternatively, if your community has a dollar store of some kind, that might make the supplies affordable.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  13. Wanda Palmerie says:

    I applied for disability in oct 2014. I am scheduled next week for my hearing. I’m still not sure why it has gone through all the steps of disallowing me disability. I have worked since I was 16 and am now 45. As of 2014 the medical list of problems have increased. Medical issues from pituitary adenoma, balder neurostimulator, migraines. Asthma, frozen rift shoulder, capsulitis, osteoarthritis, limited range of motion right arm due to rotator cuff surgery 2015 and broken right toe 2015( can’t bend toe being held together with a pin and staple). Panninectumoy due to complications from past surgery infected stomach. Subtotal colectomy (11ft intestines gone), IBS, bladder incontinence and oh yeah I survived brain surgery for a tumor. Over past 2 yrs I have had 6 surgeries. Wish all this I am still battling for disability and trying to maintain a life and pay bills. Are my chances even remotely good to win my case?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Wanda,

      If several of the conditions you have listed overlapped, I’d say you have a reasonable chance for approval.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  14. Rogerroger123 says:

    Hello ,Kay I have a question I went for my 2nd hearing on Wednesday 9-7-16 today friday 9-16-16 i called the office and they said the judge has made a decision already and it’s been with the dlecision writters now for 3 days do you think it is in my favor ?? Please get back with me asap I’m very excited thank u

    Rogerroger123

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Roger,

      It is good that you are not having to wait a long time for your decision, but I can’t say whether the decision is in your favor or not.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  15. Rogerroger123 says:

    Dear kay,
    It’s me again I forgot to say after she told me the editors has had for 3 days now andoes after it is finished it goes back to the judge for final review , the wOman I talked to said I should get it sometime next week or week after is this good or bad she was saying they do everything there in the hunington office I’m talking about howhat they send to another office if it was approval or do u think she didn’t say me because I did ask her this but she would not tell me because she said she is afraid to lose her job ?. And keep in mind the judge already made a decision in 6 days

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Roger,

      The process that has been described to you is routine including not being told the decision over the phone; the information does not reveal what the decision is.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hello, I had a Disability Hearing on June 23rd 2016, on Wednesday it will be 90 days, I have heard nothing, I am in Maine and my conditions are PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Cervical spine herniations, Osteoarthritis also in neck, Chronic Migraine’s, DDD & DJD and basically feeling like i have been in a fight against a pro boxer every morning. What should be my next step?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      At this point, your role is to wait. In the meantime, you can call the hearing office to find out where your appeal is in the process.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Alan says:

      I apologize dor being an ignoramus but I couldn’t figure out how to start a new thread, so i apologize again!
      My issue is that after waiting since oct 2014, i finally went to court on the 8th of August where I received a fully disabled decision with a doctor in the courtroom as well. When the ALJ asked him if he had any questionsfor me he said no then rendered hee favorable decisiin.heres the issue… since then i havent heard one single thing from ss admin… its almost been 2 months, any ideas as to what, if anything ivcan or should do? I did have a lawyer..ty for your time!

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Alan,

        You can call call the hearing office to get a status, whether the appeal is still awaiting the judge formalizing the decision or the decision has been made and the letter is being prepared.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

        • Alan. Hadaway says:

          Thank you Kay, I did that and the lady I spoke with was very rude and disrespectful and wouldn’t answer that one question so I think I’ll just wait if out, lol. Thank you for your time and for what you do here!

  17. Rogerroger123 says:

    Helllo kay, I have one more question if it was not appoved would it still go to another office ?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Roger,

      I am not able to provide a reliable analysis regarding the significance of where claim files are sent.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Jen says:

      I’m sorry to invade on your post but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to start a new thread. How do we start one?
      So my real question is my alj told me he makes his decisions within 30-60 but he told me my onset date will go back to when I first applied. Is him telling me my onset date a good sign? My anxiety is killing me waiting for a decision. 😞

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Jen,

        Of course, you will not know for sure until you get the decision letter, but he judge’s comment about your onset date would seem to indicate that he plans to approve your claim.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Vivian says:

      Hi Kay,
      My hearing was june 22, 2016 I was told a descion was made but, told might not get an answer until nov. Also ve said couldn’t do any jobs with knee brace and cane. I have spinal stenosis,fibermyalga, deterating disc disease in my back herniated/bulging disc, arthritis of right knee and ankle. Your thoughts please.

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Vivian,

        With the vocational expert’s (VE’s) testimony, you have a good chance of approval. If you are denied the VE’s testimony may be good grounds for appeal.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  18. Gable says:

    What if the VE found a job you could do was your age consider along with transferable skills. And didn’t my attorney ask could i do this with the amount of time I would have to miss work 60 days with then a year. I’m 56 years old

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Gable,

      Your age together with work history is considered in deciding whether you are able to work in a new occupation. In dependent of age considerations, I would expect your claim to be approved if the judge accepts that you would miss two months a year due to your medical condition.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

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