After years of waiting, you’ve had your disability hearing before an administrative law judge.
It seems to go well. And then there’s more waiting. It’s usually another 30-60 days after a hearing before the decision arrives in the mail. And sometimes the wait can even be longer than that.
And then, finally, a letter arrives from Social Security. At the top of the first page it says “Notice of Decision – Partially Favorable.”
So, what does that mean?
Well, as the name suggests, a partially favorable decision is mostly good, but it’s not quite everything you’ve asked for when applying for disability benefits.
When you tell Social Security you’re disabled, you have to pick on onset of disability. This is usually the day you’ve stopped working. When a judge issues a partially favorable decision, in most cases, that means they disagree with your onset date and have found you disabled as of a later date.
Usually, this date coincides with a change in age category when it is easier to be found disabled under Social Security’s rules. It may also be from a period of time when you started to receive more medical care for a condition, or a new diagnosis that the judge found disabling.
In rarer cases, a partially favorable decision may result in a closed period of disability. That means that the judge believes you were disabled for a certain period of time – at least 12 consecutive months, but the judge believes your disability has now ended.
In both scenarios, the partially favorable decisions can be appealed, though that can mean you might lose the benefits you’ve been awarded, so it’s important to discuss the impact of a partially favorable decision with your disability attorney.