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Waiting on a Decision: The Writing Process and the Wait to Receive a Decision

You just had your Social Security Disability hearing before an administrative law judge so now what? The two most frequently asked questions people want to know post hearing are the following: 1) Do I have to do anything thing else or provide any additional information? And 2) How long will it take to get my decision? Regarding question number two, majority of cases are “taken under advisement” by judges after the hearing. If a case is taken under advisement this means that the judge will review the record (medical evidence, etc.) again as well as your testimony given at the hearing to make their decision. Once the judges have reviewed everything, they then send their decision and reasoning to a “decision writer.” A decision writer’s job is to write the lengthy legal decision regarding why someone is found disabled or not disabled. This process can take some time because not only are these decisions several pages long, but sometimes decision writers have other decisions to write first. Therefore, it generally takes around 60-90 days to get a decision in the mail if your case is taken under advisement. In rare cases, a judge may declare at the hearing that they will be finding an individual disabled and will be issuing a favorable decision. While this is good news because the individual knows they will be receiving a favorable decision, a judge still must send their decision and reasoning to a decision writer. Finally, in even rarer cases, a judge may find that a case is so clear that it should be granted and issue what is called a “bench decision.” For a bench decision, the judge gives his reasons for granting the claim orally at the hearing. The written decision that follows within a few days is just a few paragraphs in length, and basically incorporates by reference the reasons given on the record at the hearing.

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