This post focuses on what happens after a Social Security Hearing and what happens if you win:
1) Nothing happens until it’s writing.
So after months and months of waiting, you finally go to your Social Security Disability hearing. You got prepared. You took all of your medical records. You gave your testimony. Now what?? Very simple. You wait! NOTHING, and I repeat, NOTHING will happen with your case until you get a written decision from the judge. The written decision directs the Social Security Administration on what to do with your case.
2) They say _____ days but that’s just a guess.
In some hearings, the judge may give you an “APPROXIMATE” time of how long it will take to get a written decision. Please note that I emphasize “APPROXIMATE”. Please don’t walk out of the hearing thinking that the judge is GUARANTEEING that you get the decision in the days the judge said. Here’s why. First, if you have any records outstanding, they may wait on those records. Second, the judge has to give their information regarding the decision to a ‘writer’ who will write the decision. I hate to tell you but there are usually only a few writers for several judges who have to handle hundreds of cases a piece. Third, after the decision is written, the judge has to review the decision. Finally, after the judge gives the ok, it goes and gets a final edit and then released to you. In the best case situation, this can be a few weeks. I’ve had a few that lasted up to 6 months. It just depends.
3) You can’t rush the judge so why bother.
Listen, the JUDGE is the final decision maker and you CAN’T act a fool with the judge. Remember all those times you were blowing up Social Security phone line demanding your case to be processed or moved forward, well you’re at the final destination and the Judges take their role of evaluating your case seriously. And most importantly, the JUDGE is the LAST person you want to harass about your case. They already know how important it is and how long you’ve been waiting so ‘chill out’ and wait.
4) Just because they SAY you’re approved don’t get the high pro glow.
Judges rarely will tell you that you’re approved at the hearing. However, in some instances, they may tell you. However, it’s important to remember (as stated at point #1) that you need to wait until you get the written decision. Am I saying that a judge will lie? NO, that’s not what I’m saying. However, a judge can review your information and change their mind after reviewing everything again so wait until you see the decision.
5) Now, you got it, here’s what the language means: Alot of times, people will get the decision and not fully understand what all of the extra language means. Here’s a quick down and dirty of what you’re looking -
a. Fully Favorable / Partially Favorable
On the very first page, you should see something that says Fully Favorable or Partially Favorable. Fully Favorable means that you got everything you asked for in your request (In terms of your disability date and eligibility for programs from a disability standpoint) and Partially Favorable means that you win but the Social Security Administration disagree with the full extent of what you’re asking. You may get something but not the full amount of what you were expecting.
b. Appeals Rights
Under the regulations, you have 60 days to appeal the decision. Usually people don’t appeal a Fully Favorable but you can appeal a decision. It is your right.
c. Appeals Council can review
Most people don’t realize that there is a judicial body that oversees the judge’s decisions and can render a decision regarding a case. In some instances, the Appeals Council can pull a decision to determine if the judge makes the right decision. What does that mean? If the Appeals Council has a problem, they can make the judge (and you) have the hearing again because of a discrepancy.
d. SSI means the date of the application (that’s when you get paid)
If you have a Supplemental Security Income case, your application date is crucial because that’s the date Social Security will start paying you.
e. DLI doesn’t mean that’s when your disability will run out
These initials stand for “Date Last Insured” and this date almost ALWAYS throws people for a loop. This date does NOT mean that this is when your disability will run out. It is an insurance date. Remember, when you are applying for disability on your earnings, you have to demonstrate you became disabled within a certain period of time. That period of time is anytime before your DATE LAST INSURED. So when you see that date and the decision says “date last insured”, as long as you became disabled before that date, you should be fine.
6) Who is going to pay you???? This part is even more confusing because sometimes people don’t know when they are going to get paid -
a. SSI - Local Office
If your claim was for Supplemental Security Income ONLY, the local office that handled your claim will be the only office handling your payments (Unless you moved).
b. DIB – payment center
If your claim was based on your earnings, a payment center (usually in Baltimore, Birmingham, or Jamaica-NY, etc.) will be responsible for handing your payments.
c. Concurrent – a little of both (this one takes awhile)
Here’s how it gets tricky. If you qualify for both programs, the SSI portion has to go through the local office and THEN, the case gets transferred to the payment center to handle the other portion. It’s tricky because they both rely on information from each other so if one office is missing something, this may hold up payment on both ends.
7) How long? Stop rushing them, you gonna get your money
This statement may seem cold but recognize “You gonna get yo money”. I say that because SSA recognizes that once you’ve been approved, you have a burning desire to get your money as soon as possible. I typically tell people to give it 60 to 90 days to get everything in the system. In that time, you should get your back pay, start getting your monthly pay, and additional information.
8) What are these letters from SSA??? Notice of information? Awards Notice?
Social Security is going to send you alot of information about how much money you’re going to get and when you’re going to get it. If you happen to get your money FIRST, don’t freak. It happens like that sometimes. Just know that SSA will make sure that you’re informed.
9) Make sure you have your documentation that they need or your money WILL go slow.
Remember, SSA is going to ask you for alot of information so if you’re slow on the draw regarding providing that information, you could hold up your case.
Yes, Yes, I know it’s amazing all of the things you have to do but recognize, in the end, you will be happy you receive your benefits.