After waiting more than a year to get a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, most disability claimants expect to get a decision the day of the hearing.
Unfortunately, Social Security disability doesn’t work like that.
While judges can announce their intent to approve your case at the hearing, this is becoming increasingly uncommon. Even if a judge say they’ll approve your case, this isn’t the end of the process. The decision still has to be put into writing, and that takes time.
Exactly how long it can take to get a written decision out depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, whether there are any outstanding records that need to be considered, and how many cases that disability office is processing at the moment.
In one case, my office received a decision just two days after a hearing. In another extremely complex case I’m currently handling, it’s been more than a year since the initial hearing, and we still haven’t received a decision from the judge.
Those examples are unusual though. On average, it currently takes between one and two months to get a decision after a hearing.
Even then, the case isn’t fully resolved. Actually receiving backpay and ongoing benefits can take another two months (or longer) after the decision finally comes out. If you’re appealing an unfavorable decision, that process takes several more months.
Applying for disability is not a quick or easy process, even with a strong case, which is why it’s so important to have an experienced disability attorney assist you.