Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common question clients ask me is how soon they’ll get a decision following a hearing.
Unfortunately, the best answer I can offer is “It depends.”
Most Social Security offices are severely backlogged with claims. On average, it takes between 60 and 90 days to receive a written decision from a judge, but even that isn’t a hard rule.
I had one case where it took more than six months for a judge to issue a decision. In another, the judge sent out a written decision only two days after the hearing.
It may also be possible to receive what’s called a bench decision from the judge at the hearing, but your case must meet several requirements for this to happen.
First, the decision must be fully favorable. This means that judge agrees you are disabled on the date you are claiming. It may also requiring amending on the onset date of your claim, something your attorney can discuss with you at the hearing.
Administrative law judges are also only able to issue bench decisions in adult disability cases, and there cannot be any documented alcohol and drug problems with the claim.
Finally, a bench decision can only be rendered if “no changes are required in the findings of fact or the reasons for the decision as stated at the hearing.”
This means that the judge must verbally state at the hearing why the decision is being made, and those reasons can’t be contradicted when the written decision is issued.
Unfortunately, even in the case of a bench decision, there is no firm time frame on how soon you’ll receive the judge’s written decision, but at least you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll receive disability benefits.