Myths about Social Security Disability: What happens between the HEARING and getting your written decision
The hearing process of Social Security Disability can be very nerve racking but it shouldn’t be. Once you have the hearing, the only thing you need to do is wait. However, there are some myths that some people believe that you really need to keep in its proper perspective:
1) MYTH – It’s going to take a year or longer before I get a written decision.
People fail to realize that Hearing Offices understand that you’ve waited a long time to get your hearing date. As such, they are going to take every effort to process your case as soon as possible. They can’t give you a definite time but please don’t think that your case is going to linger in ‘never, never’ land for years.
2) MYTH – The judge said I’m going to get my decision in ______ days.
As stated in a prior post, you have to remember that several people are involved in your decision. The judge makes the decision. The writer writes the decision. The editor edits the decision. The judges reviews the final decision. The staff assemble the decision and mails it out. With so many steps and so many files, some times it’s difficult to appreciate how long it takes to make a decision.
3) MYTH – The judge TOLD me that I was approved so I KNOW I’m getting a favorable decision.
I’ve said it ONCE, I’ve said it a THOUSAND times. The decision hasn’t become FINAL until you get a WRITTEN decision. Now, keep it mind (as I’ve said before), Judges are very straightforward. However, after reviewing your file or if they get new evidence, the judge may re-evaluate his or her decision.
4) MYTH – If I keep calling every day, it will speed up my decision.
I have to constantly remind people that the staff at the hearing office are people, too. These people are tasked with trying to generate hundreds of decisions a day to people who are waiting for their decision. So do you really think you are going to help your situation by constantly calling the office and keeping them from doing their job? (Use some logic. What do you do when a bill collector calls you ever day on your phone? Don’t get new! Some of you won’t even LOOK at the phone!)
5) MYTH – They have all the evidence they need. They don’t need any more.
If your case has some inconsistencies, the judge may order an evaluation. In addition, if you have some extra evidence that is helpful, they may have to review your file with the new evidence that is provided.
6) MYTH – The expert in the court said I could (or could not) work so I know I am not going to win (or lose).
Typically, in Social Security hearings, you may have a Vocational Expert or a Medical Expert. These persons are there to provide expert opinions about the ability of persons to do work (Vocational) or give opinion about the medical evidence (Medical). However, these persons are NOT the final decision maker. The judge is the final decision maker.
7) MYTH – If I call the hearing office, they will tell me if I’ve won or loss on the phone.
Most people don’t realize that Social Security has a very strict policy AGAINST informing people about the decisions on the phone. So, please don’t think that they are trying to single you out by not telling you.
8) MYTH – There is NO way I can speed up my decision.
I hate telling people this because it usually doesn’t make them feel better but if you are not Terminally Ill or in a Critical Financial Situation (i.e. eviction or foreclosure or homeless), Social Security is probably not going to move any faster on your case. Why? Because several THOUSAND people are in the EXACT same spot as you!
9) MYTH – My case will move to the top because my Congressman / Congresswoman / Senator is involved.
Ok. If you went to your Representative or your Senator, your case may have moved a little faster to get TO the hearing level. However, once it’s there, it’s in the hands of the judge and judges tend to not be swayed by Congressional pressure. Every person is equally as important (with or without the Congressional pressure).
10) MYTH – If I get denied, there’s nothing more I can do.
WRONG! You can always appeal! Remember, you have 60 days from the date of the decision to appeal.
11) MYTH – If I get approved, I win for good.
WRONG AGAIN! Two things can happen. One, the Appeals Council can pull your case for review (just checking to make sure that the decision was right). Two, you will undergo a Continuing Disability Review (unless you’re 63 or 64) every 3 to 5 years to make sure you’re still disabled.
12) MYTH – My case is exactly like my Friend’s case and he / she got approved so I should, too.
Everyone’s case is on a case by case basis. Please don’t compare your case to someone else’s case. The last thing you want to do is think that your case will have the same outcome of someone else’s case (and contrary to popular belief, you haven’t seen your friend’s file so you don’t know what got them approved).
The Social Security Disability process can be confusing. However, it can be more confusing if you allow yourself to believe alot of the myths that are out there. Remember, the process is designed for you. Don’t let it get away from you.