How long after my Social Security hearing does it take to get a decision?

I went to my Social Security hearing. But, the Judge did not say if she was going to find me disabled or not. When do I get my decision?!?

As you personally experienced, in most Social Security cases, the judge does not rule on your case at your hearing. In Colorado, I only see a decision from the bench in about one in ten cases.

In most cases, you will receive a written decision about 45 to 90 days after the hearing.

Why does it take so long?

Some judges write their own decision between reviewing upcoming cases and performing hearings.  However, it is not unusual for the decision to be sent to a “decision writer.”  Then it has to come back to the judge, be reviewed, corrected, and finalized.  After all of this is done, the decision mailed to you and your lawyer.

Unfortunately, this process takes some time.

How long did you have to wait to get your hearing decision?  Tell me in the comments!

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. This site provides general information about Social Security disability cases in Colorado. To discuss your particular circumstances, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please review the full disclaimer .

About Tomasz Stasiuk

Tomasz Stasiuk is a Colorado Springs Social Security disability lawyer and the founding attorney of the Stasiuk Firm - a law firm specializing in Social Security disability cases in Colorado. Follow Tomasz Stasiuk on Google and Twitter


  • joanne

    How long does it take to get a social security hearing?

  • joanne

    How long does it take to get a social security hearing?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I have an article about that very question here.

  • Tomasz Stasiuk

    Great question Joanne. I talk about how long it takes to get a hearing here.

  • Charles

    Here in Penna,it seems to be about the same…Wifes Hearing was Oct 1,this yr. the ALJ demanded from a Dr another pc of info which was just reciently aquired by order test.which was set just before the such we (wife and I) had to scramble to get the test done,records faxed to the ALJ with in hrs of results. now its the waiting game…Wife will be 55 in Jan..09, it appears she most likely will wait til then to hear anything reguardless…she had cancer and has multiple disk problems in her back..and neck area…I went thru mine some 17 yrs ago as hurt on the job….I was 40 when i began the process…

  • tina65

    i had my hearing in front of a judge in march o9 and it is almost septemeber and the judge had made a decision in april and when i call to check on it they allways say it is at the decision writer and at the hearing the judge asked the ve if there was any jobs i could do considering my health and medications i take and he said there was no jobs i could do does that sound like it might be in my favor and if i was denied dont you think that they would of allready sent me a denial letter

  • TomaszStasiuk

    There is not much I can say. It is often a good idea to stay in touch with the hearing office to make sure you don't miss the decision. When more than 6 months passes I sometimes consider Congressional involvement, but it depends on the circumstances. See

  • Connorb

    I had my hearing at the end of July here in NJ and exactly 30 days later my fully favorable decision letter came in the mail. Not bad! Now I'm waiting for info on my benefits which should come in the next 60 days.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Congratulations!!! You must be elated!

  • Anonymous

    I had my hearing here in NJ at the end of July and my fully favorable decision letter came exactly 30 days later. Not bad. Just waiting now for info on my benefits.

  • csc1959

    No you can still be denied when I went to my hearing the VE kept saying every time the Judge asked Do you believe she do this job or that job & every answer he gave for a Job was no I believe she could not and I still got denied. Sorry,

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, you're right. The VE is just a witness at the hearing and the judge does not have to agree with any witness. I have had hearings where the judge found the vocational expert's testimony to be not credible (fortunately, it was in my client's favor that time). That is however, extremely rare.

    Still, if the vocational *expert* says there are no jobs available in response to *every* hypothetical presented by the judge, and the claimant STILL get denied, that certainly is something to look at as a possible issue for the appeal.

  • mclark110

    It's been 5months since my husband had his hearing, and we are still waiting on a decision.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    How long things take at Social Security are a constantly moving target.

    While many cases still get decisions within 45 to 90 days of the hearing, I am seeing a surprising number of cases without decisions more than 5 months after the hearing.

    When I call the appeals office (ODAR – Office of Disability Adjudication and Review), I am often told the case is still waiting on being assigned to a decision writer (even though 5 months have already passed).

    While it may not provide much comfort, you are not the only one experiencing longer waits for hearing decision.

    Still, you want to make sure that you have not missed the decision in the mail. It is often a good idea to contact the ODAR office to make sure that the decision is still pending. Your Notice of Hearing lists a telephone number for the ODAR office. If you no longer have that, your local Social Security office can give you the number.

    Why not just ask the local Social Security office? Well, they may not have the most up to date information about what is going on with your case if it is at an ODAR office. So, it is best to go to the source.

    Good luck!

  • pmpdade

    ive been waiting 6 months for a decision

  • msmm

    I took my son to court three months ago and when i call the adj office the secretary tells me the judge hadnt made a decesion i dont understand why it takes so long.Im constantly off work because my son is sick and i have no other income,what am i to do.

  • msmm

    I took my son to court three months ago and when i call the adj office the secretary tells me the judge hadnt made a decesion i dont understand why it takes so long.Im constantly off work because my son is sick and i have no other income,what am i to do.

  • Kelly LaValley

    I had my hearing 2 weeks ago in Denver. The judge made an immediate favorable decision. My lawyer told me that most people get their benefits before they even receive the decision. I'm waiting patiently.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Congratulations on the win!

    Personally, I have never seen benefits paid before the receiving a decision. But I am not trying to say your attorney is wrong.

    However, I have started to see some cases where a client receives a letter from the local Social Security office scheduling an appointment to process benefits before the decision is delivered.

    Clearly, the Judge's office is entering the decision and Social Security acting on it immediately, while the decision takes a few days to be delivered by the post office.

  • Kelly LaValley

    Thank you!

    My lawyer said that I will most likely receive a check in the mail within one month of my hearing before I receive any other paperwork. I don't know anything about an appointment to set up benefits? Maybe it's different in Colorado?
    I'll keep you posted.

  • djeobsreaph

    my wife filed for disability in april 2006, she finaly got her hearing on august 7,2009. at the hearing the judge said she would receive disability. as of today feb. 26, 2010 she has yet to receive a written judgement and the attorney we hired here in arizona told us because it's taking so long the judge would most likely would rule against is a list of her documented problems; both hips replaced, five ruptured discs in her back in two different areas, torn rotator cuff in right sholder, fibromialgia, migraine headaches, essential tremors, acute anxiety, acrophobia, depression. four different specialists have on record she can't work. at the hearing the occupational therapist told the judge there were no jobs my wife could do. yet here she waits 4 years after applying for disability.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    A long wait may mean a problem, or, well, not. In my experience, judges generally do not state they will approve a case and then deny it. It's not impossible. It is just that when the facts of a case line up so well that a judge feels comfortable saying on the record that the case will be approved, it usually is.

    You may want to ask your attorney to call the hearing office to check on the status of the appeal just to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks.

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  • Kelly LaValley

    So I received my benefits today. :) It took 19 days from my hearing date. I haven't received anything in the mail at all from Social Security yet, though.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    WOW! I have never heard of anyone getting benefits that fast. Congratulations!

  • Kelly LaValley

    Thank you! Your website was an invaluable tool for me. Keep up the good work!!

  • madnessfalls

    I had my hearing on March 17th 2010. The start of the hearing was normal, with the judge reading file numbers and exibits in. The judge turned aferwards and asked if I had any question about the proceedings before they began, and I said, “no.” Then my lawyer began the questioning. He began with schooling and work experience then went to daily life and the struggles I have from having shizophrenia. After I answered all the lawers questions, (the judge was viewing his computer most of the time unless he was asking me to speak up) the judge scratched his beard, and said, “we stand at recess on this matter.” That was the end of the hearing. And although they had called a VE and the VE was present, the judge did NOT ask any hypotheticals to the VE. To say the least, I was a bit shocked…so was my lawyer. He stated that because the judge had NOT even attempted to find work that I could do that it was a good sign, or at the very least, very hard for them to uphold a denial if they had decided to do that. My question is, have you had this happen during any of your cases that would indicate why the judge did this? I'm still very confused to why they would have even called a VE to the hearing unless they needed them to testify? Confused in southern CO.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    If you are in Southern Colorado, I have a pretty good idea who your judge was :)

    I have had similar things happen at hearings. It can be a good sign, but a lot depends on which judge does it. You may want to talk to your lawyer about his/her experiences with this judge.

    Good luck!

  • texasgirl41

    My husband had his hearing in nov 09 but the judge wanting some other hospital records that had nothing to do with his disability. He had a heart attack at age 39. He is not 43 and had to take a medical retirment from wk. His ef rate is below 39. He has a pacemaker heart defibulator. He has to take naps during the day and the VE said there was not job that would acommed his health conditons. But after all this time his case is still It is still with the judge in post hearing review. What does that mean? And is that a good sign or bad. Thanks

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  • fayebaby31

    i live in louisiana. my alj made a favorable decision right from the bench. it was my first appeal, and took 8 mos. total from filing to hearing date. very expeditious from what i've heard.

  • fayebaby31

    oh, i realized i didnt post what was wrong – i have degenerative disc disease at all levels of my spine, 3 bulging discs in my neck, migraines, and non- alcoholic liver disease. i'm 34. my lawyer said it helped that i had 158 pieces of medical evidence in the last year alone.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Congratulations! That's terrific!

  • Pingback: Is a long wait after the Social Security hearing a bad sign? | Colorado Social Security Law

  • lisa miller

    my husband went to his hearing 2 months ago,and still not a word.he was told by his lawyer a ve would be their,but when he went to court their was no ve person.also he was denied any witnesses.just wandering if that is a good or bad sign.also 3 people who went to court on the same day as he did have allready got a took my friend 2 months for a denial.he has been fighting this for 10 years.he is 54.

  • jamiee

    i went to my hearing may 11th and social security got the decision today .But I wonder how long it will take for me to get the decision?

  • Pinktoes1723

    oh after my trial was over he said unless he changed his mind by the morning i was in his opinion disabled .This was in ohio



  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Hansa,

    This article may be useful:

  • Nita

    I got a fully favorable decsion after 12 days! The only quick part of the two year process but no money yet and that is what we need after all this.

  • Alcaholicdemon

    Finally after 4 months my husband was approved.he received a good sum of money from ssi,but then was told he was not eligible because his ssd was to he received his first ssd check.has not got his back pay yet,not sure how long that will take

  • Billy

    Hello I have been denied once in the mail the first time. I imedetly got a lawyer, this all falls back in Sept/2008 . I went in front of an ALJ/ in indianapolis last july 2010. No word yet last week my lawyer called on it and returned my call with the notice that the Judge hasnt even looked at my case yet to make a decition? wow so im at a loss, not sure what, where, or if my head is even on my sholders? sorry if i dont help but it can only let better…

  • Timothy

    Had my ALJ hearing on August 18th, 2010 and here it is November 11th, 2010 or 12 weeks and 1 day or 85 days since my hearing. Still no word or letter from my lawyer or SSA.
    I live in Hawaii, 43 years old, combat vet. L4/L5/S1 spinal fusion, (Still alot of pain in hips and lower legs joints), major depression and PTSD. The slightest little bang has me hitting the ground still after 5 years after being back from Iraq.
    My time in Iraq even while injured went faster then this SSDI nightmare of waiting and waiting to be denied, reconsidered, appeal and still wait for a decision. I at the point of saying goodbye to everything because if you were not crazy or depressed before, fighting for SSDI benefits will drive you crazy and get you depressed. I am sick of this whole SSDI wait and mind games.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hey Timothy, I’m sorry things are so frustrating. Your lawyer should be able to help give you an idea of how much longer it should take to get a decision. If all else fails, you can always call the appeals office yourself. The notice of hearing lists their telephone number.

    Hang in there, and give your lawyer a call. :)

  • D3cbrown4

    I applied for misuse of funds over 9 years ago, I recieved a letter saying that they were looking into it. 5 years ago. Now they won’t call me back and when I talked to the person at Colorado SS they were rude and said we just don’t ignor these things but nothing has happened. What would you suggest my next step would be?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I do not quite understand what is going on with your situation. However, if a person is treated badly by Social Security, they can always complain to the head of the office. Also, if things just are not getting done, there is always the Congressional option:

  • Embracegrace

    I had my hearing on August 11, 2010 and received my approval letter on January 14, 2011 (letter dated January 7). I was supposed to have both a VE and ME at my hearing but the VE didn’t show. (I found out later that her husband was dying). The judge kept the case open for quite awhile–at least two months. I’m not sure if the original VE weighed in or he got another one, but whoever it was stated that there were no jobs I could do (I have a traumatic brain injury).

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Thank you for sharing your time line on getting a decision from Social Security. And congratulations!


    If we have missed two appointment how long before we can get a new one?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    You have missed 2 appointments with Social Security since being approved? If so, you may want to get a hold of your local SSA office as soon as possible.

  • Jennifer2u42

    it has been over a year since our hearing with no word. I keep in contact with our lawyer and he said he is having a hard time getting a hold of anyone. What should we do. Or should we just assume it is an automatic no. My husband is a disabled veteran with 80 percent disability.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Your lawyer is in the best position to determine what is going on. I encourage you to keep in close contact with his/her office.

    It is extremely unusual for a year to pass without a hearing decision. In Colorado, at least, many decisions are entered within 90 days, and 6 months is the longest wait that I see. However, some cases have multiple hearings, or have post-hearing consultative examinations, which can increase the wait time.

    The hearing office should be able to provide a statement of the status of the decision. For example, the case may be with a decision writer, or with the judge for review, etc.

    Your lawyer should be able to tell you what the hearing office is saying is the status. Of course, you can also contact the hearing office directly. Their telephone number is on the Notice of Hearing which you received.

    Good luck Jennifer!

  • 90year old legs in a 23′s body

    Are there any offices that are typically longer? I just had my hearing via teleconference with Chicago. The judge is waiting for a piece of evidence and said my case would be closed in 14 days. It has been 18 months since my original application. Also, ever heard of a denial when the VE said there were no jobs?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi there. You don’t mention how long ago your hearing was. When an individual is waiting for a hearing decision, the amount of time since the **application** is not as important as the amount of time since the **appeal**.

    If the issue is the ALJ is waiting for a piece of evidence, the real question may be, has the judge gotten it? You or your lawyer can call the hearing office and ask to speak to the judge’s post-hearing clerk to see if the evidence has been received and if there is anything else that the judge is waiting on.

    You mentioned that the case would be “closed” in 14 days. The term “closed” usually does not mean decided. It often simply means that the record will not longer be held “open” and the judge and his/her staff will begin working on the decision.

    I do not work in the Chicago area, so I cannot tell how long that office takes for decisions. Whoever answers the phone at the hearing office (you may have to press “0″ to get to the front desk) may be able to give you an estimate.

    I have a number of articles about vocational expert testimony here:
    Keep in mind that vocational expert testimony is another source of evidence. The judge has to weigh it along with the other evidence in the case. A judge may choose to accept or reject vocational expert testimony. When you have a lawyer at your hearing, they will usually have a pretty good idea of which way the case is leaning. However, without being there, I cannot comment.

    Good luck!

  • Sleepytimez

    how long after first social security first monthly check should the back pay come.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Barring issues with workers’ compensation, state interim benefits, child support obligations, overpayments, periods of incarceration, etc, the answer is soon. Back benefits are often paid within 60 days of regular monthly benefits starting; often much sooner. However, it all depends on the specifics of each case and the office an individual is dealing with.

    Good luck!

  • Lewis J

    How can social secuity department can say you were overpaid because you help someone, by being a co-signer on a car are something like that.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hmm. I was trying to figure out how your example of co-signing in a car might result in an overpayment. Then an idea occurred to me.

    Did Social Security consider you an owner of the vehicle, and since it is not a primary vehicle, it is not excluded, putting you over the asset cap for SSI?

    I’m just guessing here. SSA should be able to give you the answer.

  • Guest

    I recently Jan 3rd 2011 had a multi level spinal fusion S1-L3. Since the age of 19 I have had back pain, I am now 36. I have been unable to hold down my full time job (Pay Analyst) since Sept 1st of 2010. Since my surgery I have been in extreme amounts of pain, most days I feel worse than before my surgery and most days regret having the fusion. My days consist of Morphin and Lortab for pain and bed or recliner. I can’t stand for very short periods of time nor sit for very short periods. My surgeon now has ordered me a bone stimulator to wear because he said I have not healed like I should basically failed fusion. He said I should be able to return to work since I have a sit job but I do not see that happenning any time soon because of my pain and needing to lay down. What are my chances of being approved for SSID

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It sounds like there is definitely a case there. However, I can’t give you any kind of odds. A lot of cases have summaries that sound good.

    It is important to consider that Social Security disability cases are won and lost on the details. A case’s chances depend on what the medical records, doctor’s statements and other evidence says.

    Ultimately though, even with all the presently available evidence, anyone’s opinions of the chances is still only a guess. The only way to find out is to apply and let SSA evaluate the case.

  • guest

    i am wondering what happens when the administrative law judge does not call the vocationalsecialist to the hearing. it was only myself the judge mmy attorney and the secretary. wehave alot of medical back up some favoring my disability and some saying i am okay to work! Why did he not bring the voc secialist in to the hearingand when will i get a determiation. he said bc i have been waiting so long six years to get this hearing that i would go to the top of the pile! ? could you help with thee questions ? thank you

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, I can’t tell you “why” the judge didn’t have  VE. Some judges I know use VEs all the time, others do not. A VE provides evidence (testimony) about steps 4 & 5 of the sequential evaluation process.

    That is, whether an individual can perform any past work (step 4) or any other type of work (step 5). 

    Also, the burden of proof shifts at step 5. At steps 1 through 4, the claimant has the entire burden of proving their case. If the claimant fails to provide sufficient evidence, Social Security can deny the case without lifting a finger (as it were). 

    However, if an individual get up to step 5 and still not be denied, *then* the burden shifts to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to proved that the individual is *not* disabled. 

    So, from a legal standpoint, if the judge wants to deny an individual at step 5, there usually has to be a VE to provide testimony. Otherwise, there is a potential appealable issue that the judge made a step 5 denial without supporting evidence. 

    So, that doesn’t really answer your question does it? Why didn’t the judge have a VE? Who knows! Perhaps the judge felt the case is a slam dunk and there isn’t the need to have a VE present. Perhaps the judge felt the case had serious issues and could be resolved (either by an approval OR a denial) and VE was not necessary. I don’t want to tease you. However, I just can’t say why. It’s asking me to read the tea leaves without even seeing the tea cup.  However, I hope a brief discussion of the impact of not having a VE at the hearing was useful!

    Good luck!

  • Hollis W. Haggard

    I guess I am a very lucky guy, my hearing was on May 9, 2011 and just today I looked at my bank account on line and noticed that SS has deposited my backpay. It took over 2 years to get approved and only 2-1/2 weeks to get my backpay. It does pay to stick it out and go as long as it takes. Remember don’t quit or giveup.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Wow! Hollis, that is super fast. Congratulations on the win and the speedy payout! And thanks for the tip.

  • becomingAdisabilityAdvocate

    Hi I applied for benefits in 2009. I was found unfavorable in 2010. I appealed the decision and it was sent back to the administrative law judge who found me unfavorable. I had my new hearing yesterday.  I am under the impression hings worked in my favor. The v.e stated I was only able to work 300 jobs of 1.5 million and that job I am not qualified to do. The judge then said to me, thank you, looks like things went in your favor today. This was a hard case because I am 29 years of age. I had the hardest time finding an attorney who wanted to take my case because my chances were slim. They all told me to start over but I proved the three points he said I had to in order to recieve benefits. My question is how soon should I hear something about the decision? I am in NY. Also I worked for 3 months during this time and it was stated I did not have gainful work experience  another reason I couldnt find anattorney to assist me is because many of them felt that even if I won. My benefits would be adjusted and wouldnt be enough to pay them substantially. So I guess I have a two fold question, one will my benefits be adjusted because I worked or will they date back to my first application and how soon should I get a decision. Also after the decision how soon before the benefits come? 

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Whether the benefits will be adjusted is a matter of the Onset Date the judge selects. If the work performed was not gainful, then it might have no impact. The other end of the spectrum would be the judge moving the onset to *after* the work ended. Either option assumes an approval. If the judge said the work wasn’t gainful, it suggests the former. However, without knowing your case, I really can’t say.

    As far as timing, in my home state of Colorado, I normally tell people that the decision should be issued in 45 to 90 days, however if the 90 mark is crossed, then the case is probably with a decision writer and might take up to 6 months (from the date of the hearing). Processing of benefits can be from a few weeks to about 90 days depending on whether a case is DIB, SSI, or both as well as what other issues need to be addressed (periods of incarceration, workers’ compensation offsets, overpayments, etc).

    Good Luck!

  • Christina

    my husband has fought for over 2 1/2 years. On June 2, 2011 he had his hearing & the judge told him she was only going to approve him for the last year starting Jan 2010 instead of Jan 2009. She asked him if he was willing to accept that or he could appeal & it would take another year for him just to come back before her. He agreed to her terms & she said she would get his letter to him in the next 2 or 3 weeks, but NO letter yet. Since she approved him during his hearing when will his benefits start?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Christina,

    Social Security cannot process benefits until a decision is entered.

    Judges can issue a “bench decision” by orally entering a ruling into the record. However, this is fairly rare.

    Typically when a judge tells a claimant how the judge is going to rule, that is not the decision. It is a “preview” and “summary” of the outcome to remove worry and tension. He decision *still* needs to be written and electronically entered so that 1) the local Social Security office (SSI cases) and/or regional payment center (SSDI case) can begin processing benefits. The electronic decision is also converted into a paper decision which is mailed to the claimant. However, with Social Security office electronically linked, the local office and/or payment do not have to quay for the paper version which can lag the electronic decision by ten days or longer.

    Basically, even when a judge tells a claimant what the outcome will be, until the decision is entered, nothing happens in terms of beginning the processing of back benefits and ongoing benefits.

    I don’t have information to add to what I have already written about how long it takes to get a decision.

  • Tasha


  • Tasha


  • TomaszStasiuk

    I can’t give you a different answer from what is in the article. You can call the hearing office to get an estimate of how long it normally takes to get a decision. 

  • Amy

    hello i just got approved for ssi on june 23rd 2011. and they are takin it back all the way to febuary 28th 2008 and i was just wondering how long does it take to get my award letter and my backpay? thank you!!!!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Take a look at

  • Amy

    thank you i just hope it dont take long

  • Kindrafudge

    hi i just went to my hearing on june 21,2011 the judge told me to bare with him and allow him 2 to 3 months for his decision you know you get confused when they get to talking in the section codes but how ever they had a vocational doctor there stating that im able to work at least 6 hours a day when my primary doctor declared me disabled where i cant do anything longer than 30 minutes but when my attorney spoke on my behalf and asked the doctor if my doctor declared that i couldnt do anything in the functional capacity and asked if i was able to do the jobs that he listed the doctor said no to all three jobs he gave and the judge asked him if there was any jobs that i can do to my limitations he told the judge no so that being said what do you think the outcome will be  also after the hearing speaking to the attorney he told me everything looks good on my behalf  it that a good sign that i will win my case please help me

  • TomaszStasiuk

    From what you describe it sounds like it went well. 
    Not having seen the hearing nor being familiar with the records, it is difficult to second guess what your lawyer told you. It is not even monday morning quarterbacking, it is just, well, guessing. 

    So, if your lawyer says it went well, give yourself (and your lawyer) and pat on the back. If you have a question, give your lawyer a call. S/he is in the best position to comment.

    Good luck!

  • Cutie5_0

    Hola Tomasz ,

    I filed for my SSID or SSI in November 2010…I was denied twice by SSID or SSI caseworkers..They kept saying I needed more proof, but they’ve got my MRI results (which states I have DDD Degenerative Disc Diease 4 bugling disc, forminal/cervical stenosis, and a lot of arthritis…I cant stand, walking (including small hills), carry anything more then 10lbs, or sit up to long with out hurting my back and it feels like something is pulled near my groan area when I try to force myself sitting up..My doctor says in my DSHS medical/ physical report  in 3 months I am only able to work 10 hrs a week (which is like 5o. 60 bucks)…My son and I cant survive off of that..I basically receive more money from DSHS..Smdh!!..Anyways now I have got a lawyer and yesterday I got a letter from SSA saying in things I should get ready for now in the hearing…It also says “We will mail a notice of hearing to you at least 20 days before the date of your hearing to tell you the time and place….So does that mean I cant expect to be going to court this year soon?…;)

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It just means that *whenever* they set they hearing, they will give you at least *20 days notice*. Your lawyer can give you an idea of the average wait time in your state from requesting a hearing to when a hearing is likely to be set. Good luck (and I’m glad you got a lawyer on your case)!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    To relieve the tension of waiting weeks or months for the “on the record” decision to be entered.

    The judge can’t always speed up how long it takes for the decision to be finished — the decision is more than a simple yea or no. However if a judge is going to approve someone, the judge sometimes lets them know so the person isn’t biting their nails wondering what the decision will be.

  • mainegurl

    i had my hearing 3 days ago the judge says off the record i am finding the decission in your favor,so i don’t understand why he said off the record.

  • Anthony Schaeffer

    I was approved in federal court in late April and still did not get money? How long does it usually take? thanks so much

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I’ve written about how long it takes to get benefits after the hearing decision:

    However, I don’t handle federal court cases, so I cannot address how long it takes after those. 

  • Anthony Schaeffer

    thanks! Nice article

  • Cutie5_0

    Unfortunately I made a lot of bad decisions in my life helping others…Now that I’m disabled  my son & I are in a pinch..I have to let him stay with his aunt tell i get my SSI or SSID…Yes, I have a lawyer but is there anyway I could have the process move faster…My housing is in big time jeopardy and my lawyer says homeless peoples cases move faster if your on the street which she doesn’t thinks make since either…

  • Cutie5_0

    Unfortunately I made a lot of bad decisions in my life helping others…Now that I’m disabled  my son & I are in a pinch..I have to let him stay with his aunt tell i get my SSI or SSID…Yes, I have a lawyer but is there anyway I could have the process move faster?…My housing is in big time jeopardy and my lawyer says homeless peoples cases move faster if your on the street which she doesn’t thinks make since either…

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I have written about speeding up cases for dire need, here:

    My honest opinion is that you and your lawyer are in the best position to figure out what, if anything, can be done to try to speed up your case. Your lawyer should know the judges and hearing office in your area and what they are likely to respond to. 

  • Butterfly Sai

    I have a question.  I had my appeals hearing on April 2011.  I call them an the last time I called them the guy told me that the cheif had to review it an sign it still an I should recieve my letter in the near future.  Is this a good sign or bad?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    What you are telling me is that the decision is waiting on a signature. That is a normal part of the process and just about the last step before a decision is sent out. However, I cannot make any kind of guess as to the outcome of the case.

  • Heather

    Hi there, I just had my hearing today. I THINK it went well….the vocational expert stated that there would be no jobs I could perform based on the opinion of the doctor I was sent to by SS. (which was for mental issues, not even touching the physical impact of having Narcolepsy on top of it…..kindly pointed out by my attorney.)

    Anyway, I would believe it is going to be a favorable decision but for one thing: I am pregnant, and had to stop taking all medications. The judge had even asked me if I would be functioning better on my medications, to which I replied a little better, but it seemed to lose it’s effect after a few weeks. (Dr and I were in the process of increasing/changing meds when I discovered I am pregnant.) Am I worrying over nothing? The anxiety is torture :(

  • Mccaulleymary

    i had a hearing aug.17 2011 and i called they said my decision was mailed aug.24  2011 is that a bad sign that it was a fast decision the ve was ok the judge asked the hypo questions and they seemed favorable to me but who knows

  • TomaszStasiuk

    A fast decision is, in my experience, a good sign. Good luck Mary!

  • Lesterharris93

    Hi I had a hearing in front of a law judge in augusta and I had been waiting on a decision letter the judge said i’ll hear from her in 60 days and I haven’t received nothing yet. So does any one no how much longer have to wait for letter.

  • Methenew

    I ALSO had a hearing the same day as you AUG 17th.  I received a bench decision so keep me informed I wanna know how much longer for benefits??  

  • Boss105

    I had my hearing in Dallas at the end of March 2011 & no decision letter as of today Labor Day 2011.  The case has been in the writing stage since the hearing date.  My attorney told me before the hearing that the ALJ conducting my denies 90% of all cases that came before him.  I researched him on the internet and my attorney was correct.  I am 100% Service Connected Permanent and Total disabled according the VA and have been receiving 100% VA  benefits since 2004.  I told my attorney that maybe I would be one of the ALJ’s 10%.  The ALJ even stated during the hearing that my case should not have made it to him but yet it did and here I am 6 months later with no decision.  My attorney tells me not to call the ALJ’s office because we don’t want to make him angry.  The amount of time waiting on his decision is prolonging my ability to reapply because appealing a negative decision will only get me back in front of this ALJ.  If the appeals board finds in my favor he will definitely not be happy to see me.  It’s as though my attorney and others here are in fear of retaliation from this ALJ if they challenge his decisions since his approval record is only 10%.  I am seriously considering moving to a region where the ALJs are more favorable before I reapply. Until then I just wait.  Any thoughts? 

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Ok. So you have been waiting about 5 months (April, May, June, July, August). A longer than average wait is often a bad indicator. On the other hand, the ALJ’s comment that the case should not have gotten to him along with the 100% VA rating are very favorable signs. You may well be among the 10% approved. 

    There are things that can be done to try to squeeze a decision out, but they can have a bad result. Generally, calling to check the status of the case and even speaking with the judge’s clerk have a low likelihood of causing problems. Escalating beyond that, say, getting your member of Congress involved can be more problematic:
    Discuss your concerns and any action you want to take with your lawyer. S/he is in the best positon to tell you how any action is likely to play out. One question to ask is how long does it normally take to get a decision out of your ODAR office and this judge in particular. SSA is getting its resources cut, less staff, less overtime and more pressure to reduce the backlog. You don’t have to be sympathetic to SSA’s situation, however, it may help figure out if you are waiting longer than “normal.” If the case is still within the normal range, that can help inform your choice of action.

    Also, consider this:

    Good luck!

  • Pingback: Social Security Judge Told Me She Approved My Disability | Colorado Social Security Law

  • Phillip soto

    i went to my hearing on may 15 2011 it is now sept 8 and still no descion  on my status. 

  • Whitegold21

    where can I log in to check the stautes of my case

  • TomaszStasiuk

    That depends on where you are in the process. Social Security has a page to check the status of initial applications:

    However, they don’t tell you much.

    During the initial application, it is often better to contact the case manager at Disability Determination Services.

  • ladydeedee

    hi I had my alj hearing on july 12th. was sent to have consultative exams on aug 9 and 12. judge received my record for decision on 25th of august and it went to writers on august 26th. the actual writer began working on it september 1st and my case was administratively closed on september 8th. the judge was great at the hearing and the voc expert stated that i couldn’t do any job not even sedentary work.  I am still awaiting the letter on my decision.  I was just told by the hearing office that a letter has already been mailed to me.  I am so nervous.  I originally filed on dec 2008.

  • Pgerman5047

    I would just like to give some people hope.  I have a blood disorder.  I look healthy and am 54.  I was struggling the last year I worked between going to doctors and a full time job.  Then my sister died and I went into a depression that made it impossible to work.  I could not move. Trying to get my son to school was a chore. I stopped eating and this effected my blood problems.  Anyway. I lost my job in December of 2009.  I filed for disability in January, 2010.   I was very detailed in my paper work and made sure they got everything they needed.  I was approved in A pril.  There is a six month waiting period so the first month I was to get paid on was June.  I got it third week of July.  So everyone doesn’t get denied.  Good luck everyone!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Kceesmom5

    If the vocational expert says that in his opinion, the person is unable to work… does that help in getting an approval?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Sure. That can be very helpful. Just keep in mind that everything the judge hears and sees is evidence. The judge then has to weigh the evidence to make a decision. While good VE testimony is a good sign, a judge is not bound by it. It is an important part of the total evidence the judge considers. However, still only part of the total evidence.  

  • Kceesmom5

    I got my letter today… Was approved.  Now what?  (Fully Favorable)  I will be so glad to have some insurance….  What is the next step I will have to deal with?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Take a look at



  • Kceesmom5

    Will I also be able to get insurance now that I have been approved?  Thanks for the information, it was very informative.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Social Security comes with health insurance: Medicare for SSDI, and Medicaid for SS.

    Medicaid can start immediately. However there is a waiting period for Medicare.

  • Kceesmom5

    so if I have already been waiting for 24 months, then I will recieve medicare immediately? Or will I still have to wait for 2 yrs.?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, waiting for 24 months may not be the same as being “in pay status” for 24 months. 

    24 months of SSDI benefits have to be paid before the individual is eligible for for Medicare benefits. The 24 months included back benefit months. 

    So, if Social Security paid benefits back to 01/10, Medicare eligibility would begin 01/12, after 24 months of benefits. 

  • Janeljohnson90

    The VE said i can go back to my past job as a cashier but my lawyer asked him if i go back to being a cashier would they keep me and with the side effects of the meds would they allow me to take more breaks than normal, and his response was no, and theywould seek another employee. So is that a good sign? And he also was saying that there are so jobs that i can do in the national economy. So is it a good sign towards an approval?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    “Trust the person in the room.” Your lawyer was there with you and is the best person to tell you his/her impressions of how the judge responded to the cross examination of the VE. 

    Ultimately, it comes down to whether the judge is likely to believe the additional limitations presented by your lawyer. Strictly speaking, *any* limitation can presented during the hypotheticals. Whether it has any likelihood of convincing the judge has a lot to do with the support in the evidence. In my opinion, it has to be more than a possible side effect (like the list of side effects that comes with most medications). It helps if the medical records document the side effect happening.

    Good luck Janel! I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

  • Kceesmom5

    Also, I have not worked since 2008…. they know this to be the case. I live alone, my parents, and my sisters have helped me finacially for the last 3 years.  Also, my grand father helped me out alot, sadly he passed away last week….. what do I need to provide for the local security office, I have no bank accounts or anything, as I have no money.  I want to go ahead and have any information, they may need.  Thanks your information has been very helpful. 

  • TomaszStasiuk

    The local office will tell you what they need from you.

  • Austinsluv2u2

    I had my hearing in December 2008 before a Federal Judge and my lawyer and I was asked to give more medical evidence on my disability.  We provided the evidence, the judge said he would give us an answer by January 23, 2009 and we are still waiting today to hear a decision.  I have peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, a broken navicular bone in my left wrist and a fracture in my right foot that was not diagnosed as broken bones and both heal incorrectly and developed bad arthritis around them over a period of time.  I have carpel tunnel and my previous work involved a lot of typing I can no longer do… (having problems typing this without having to stop several times from the pain).. The response I got from the Judge at the hearing was, “could I do any housecleaning”  I said some but I had to stop a lot to rest… His response was “if you can clean house some then maybe you can work some too”… that was then he was told about the peripheral neuropathy and the fibromyalgia… He asked for the evidence we provided and we still have not gotten an answer… My lawyer checked with the system a couple times and they said it is still sitting on the judge’s desk he hasn’t made a decision yet.. How much longer do we have to wait???

  • TomaszStasiuk

    That just doesn’t make any sense. Anything more than 6 months and people start getting their members of Congress involved in putting pressure on to get a decision issued. That is, 6 months after any post hearing evidence and consultative reports are submitted to Social Security. 

    Waiting 22 months after the hearing and still no decision? That strains belief.

    When was the last time your lawyer checked on the status? Personally, I would call the hearing office directly. If the case really has not been decided 22 months after the hearing, talk to your lawyer about getting your Congressman involved.

  • Kceesmom5

    If you owe back taxes, can the IRS garnish your disability money?

  • TomaszStasiuk


  • Briannastovaw

    My boyfriend had his ssi court hearing 3 business days ago and received ssi mail today but we have no ride to get it at his po box. What would the mail possibly be on?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Carnack says, “it is likely a reminder of the hearing sent from back east finally arriving.”

    Or, not.

  • Rachel

    i recently went in front of judge after being denied 2 times and then appealed it and then waited 3 years when will i know what her decision was it was 8/11/2011???

  • Kimberley Richey

    I had my hearing july 19 2011 the judge contacted my attorney telling her they had all the evedince they need and it is now october 13th and i called social secuirty and they said there is still no decesion made does that mean bad that it takes this long?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It really is a matter of trying to read tea leaves to try to decide if a long wait is a bad sign. Generally, a long wait is not as good as a rapid (within 60 days of the hearing) decision. However, it *really* may not mean anything at all. I know it is hard to wait. But, reading too much into the time will just make you miserable. 

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. 

  • Kceesmom5

    I got a small check today from ssi.  Is this different from my disability I will recieve? Also, I owe a lawyer, but this check I got today want even cover my lawyer.  Do I pay them when I get my disability back pay? 

  • Kceesmom5

    I got a small check today from ssi.  Do I pay my lawyer out of this check, or do i wait until I get my back pay from disability?  This check I got today is just a small check.  Thanks

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, talk to your lawyer :)

    Generally, Social Security now withholds 25% of the back benefits from both SSI and SSDI and will pay the law office directly. So, in most cases, the claimant only has to cut a check to pay expenses. SSA pays the fees (out of the back benefits). 

    Also, keep in mind that in SSI cases, claimant’s back benefits are paid in installments:

  • Kceesmom5

    If i get ssi, does this mean I will not get my disability back pay? This is all very confusing.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I can’t answer that. It depends on the specific circumstances of your case. You need to speak to your lawyer about it. 

  • Lfrazier23

    Glad to hear that you received your benefits. I had my hearing on the 19th of October.. was denied the first time, denied on recon then had a scheduled hearing in May to see the ALJ and he postponed the hearing for me to go see a CE Pyschiatrist. Then was rescheduled to just last week on the 19th. No decision at the hearing, however, the hypothetical questions the judge asked the VE were strange.. first one VE said yes I could do past and future work, second hypothetical question the VE said no too. Then on cross examination as I have a work limitiations/restriction form that states I cannot work more then 2 hours without walking, standing and sitting when I needed. The rest very very litmied and the VE said no I could not do any work past or future. So I hope that this helps my case.

  • Brandon

    I have M.S and i was finally awarded SS. By the judge just waiting on that LETTER now i filed back in june of 2010 so when i finally get my awardance letter will  i be getting health ins. june 2012??

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It sounds like you are asking about the 24 month waiting period for Medicare. This post may provide the information you are looking for:

    I cannot say how your case will end up since I don’t know whether you were applying for SSI or SDDI? Or how far back the ALJ decided the disability began, or how far back the benefits will go.

  • Rbrthi

    Just had my hearing after being denied 3 times.
    took about 15  minutes.
    the attorney said it went 98% in my favor and I should hear from ssd 4-6 weeks or  sooner.

  • Dukenlady

    Hello ,
    I went to a consult and was denied and had to appeal to ALJ. I am 29 married with three children  I  suffer from bi polar depression anxiety  I take meds that i cant drive and still dont leave house anyway make me dizzy. My medical consult noted i abuse marijuana but dx me two listing and prognosis fair and did note some impairments . I had a hearing two weeks ago. The judge asked about this and I said I have not done that since school 12 years ago and my atty provided drug tests from my mental health providers office all negative two recent tests and 4 older ones.  There was no VE or ME The judge was very friendly and the hearing she went through work history what i did there and why i was let go. lasted about 20 minutes.  The judge wanted records from 2009 and 2010 from mental health doc office , WHY ? Is that good or bad she had 5 other years including most current…medical records so the judge left the record open passing my chances of a bench decision : C   he submited records day after hearing.  My lawyer says it went well but im not so confident since there was no VE or ME and the lie from the medical consult whom twisted things . The original denial after the consult never mentioned denying me for drugs at all. What do you make of all this mess

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Without knowing your case, I can’t really say. The big issue appears to be drugs, but if your tests show you are clean, that’s pretty dispositive! At least as of the time the tests were done. Re asking for 2009 & 2010 records, if you are claiming disability back to 2009, then those records are relevant. Share your concerns with your lawyer and see what s/he says.

  • Rams Fan

    I had my hearing 6 mos ago. I still havent heard from anyone. I have called my lawyer and he told me that it was on the Judges desk. The judge said he will be getting back to me we his decision within 6 mos. Now what do I do? It seems my lawyer wont do anything for me. Do I fire him or do I just call them or go there on my own?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, firing the lawyer because the judge hasn’t issued a decision is a bit extreme. Your lawyer can’t control how long it takes for the judge to get the decision out.

    It is possible to get your member of Congress to call and try to speed things up. However, that is something of a “nuclear option.”

    If that is something you want to do, talk to your lawyer about the pros and cons.

    Good luck!

  • Sherriey

    I was denied at the initial stage and on recon starting back in May of 2009. I finally had my hearing in front of an ALJ on October 19th. I suffer from BiPolar, Personality Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Myofacial Pain Syndrom and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The judge listened to all of my testimony and the ME stated that he thought I was over exaggerating my symptoms and only based his testimony off of the report that the CE Pyschatrist provided that SSDI sent me too and one other doctor and completely overlooked and did not mention anything about the physician I see on a regular basis. The judge asked the VE two hypotheticals in which the first one the VE said yes there was past and present work I could do and that I had transferable skills. The judge then asked the VE the same hypothetical but asked if there was an employer past or present that would keep me with missing 2 more days of work a month and the VE stated “No”. Then my attorney presented the VE with my work restrictions and asked him two sets of questions and the VE stated that there was absolutely no job past or present that I could do and givin that I miss 4 days of work a month and leave eary on every job I have and the VE said no way there would be anything in the national economy I could do. My work limitations/restrictions that were provided to me by an Occupational Medicine Doctor are as follows: 2 hours of very light work with lifting no more then 5 lbs., sitting (34-66%), standing (11-33%), walking (11-33%),  bending (waist/neck) (1-10%), squat/knee/crawl (never), Twist/Pivot (waist/neck) (1-10%), climb stairs/steps/ladders (never), work over shoulder (never), work floor to waist (never), jogging/running (never), work waist to shoulder (67-100%) with seldom (1-10%) of my right arm being used for grasping, pincer gripping, reaching withoutstreched arm, twisting (wrist), pushing/pulling with hands, wrist flexion/extension and keyboard work and with my left arm being able to be used for the following things (34-66%). While noting that I need to alternate betweeing sitting/standing/walking as needed. It has been almost 30 day’s and I do not have a decision made as of yet. My attorney didn’t sound positive about the hearing stating that the judge was looking at my substance abuse issues from long ago which the ME ruled out as a problem and the CE that I seen stated that they didn’t believe It was a factoring issue for anything. My attorney also said that the first set of hypotheticals the judge gave the VE was not favorable on my part and my attorney wants me to keep submitting more medical records of new and upcoming appointments that he can continue to send to the judge while we are wating for a decision. I’ve never heard of that before. So given this information what does this all add up too? Thanks

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Sounds like your lawyer is concerned. Of, you can just ask him/her. 

    The restrictions from your doctor are good however there is the rest of the file to consider:

  • Karihorns

    After reading all the different comments, I see I just might be screwed. I recently had my court hearing and the way the judge sounded at the end I’m not to sure I’m going to receive my judgement. Basically, because I’m educated I may not be approved for my case even though I’m not able to sit, stand, lift, carry, or do much of anything. If it’s going to take another year to get money even if I do get approved my kids and I will be living on the streets. My landlord have been nice but I have been waiting since 2009. Finally, got a hearing earlier Nov. and may not receive a decision till February, and then it may take another year before I receive a payment. Wow, when is the government going to put the needs of those that keep them having a job first.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I think you are misreading the post. I typically see between 45-90 days to get a hearing decision followed by 45-90 for benefits to begin. So, while longer is possible, from what I see average time to payment from the hearing is between 90 – 120 days. 

  • Dsweatland

    I have had my hearing in august.  Have not heard back yet.  My lawyer said that could be good.  I have seizures.  I sleep 3 days after having a seizure.  They ask me about if I lost my job at ups put i said i have no problem with a doctors note.  Could that be my down fall.  I have video eeg to back me up at rush hospial.  Also have cluster headaches.  They ask me about if i gone to a doctor for that.  I told them i didnt know about speicalist for headaches.  Since than I have gone on oxgen and seeing a specalist in feb for it.  Does it sound good.  My lawyer said it soundes about 95 percent good.  But wooried about the headheads.  Because seize are usally deined.  I have parial  seizures.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I dont’ think seizures are “usually denied.” I can’t think of single judge I have come across who did not recognize how negatively seizures affect a persons ability to work. The larger question is the efficacy of medications and how often a person has seizures despite meds. Documenting that can be difficult.

    As for how your case sounds…

    Good luck! I hope you win!


    I applied for disability back in 2005 maybe I don’t remember but I was denied and then went to the law judge and got denied twice there too. I just received a letter about partially favorable so I’m just waiting.

  • Tanysha2114

    My son had his hearing Nov. 29th of this year and it went really well. The judge was very funny and he said I was very articular. I had a lawyer and once he opend up my son file he said he sees that there is some problems and he wanted my lawyer to get two doctor questionnaire and he sent for a teacher questionnaire as well. He gave a good vibe and said I give you guys two weeks to get the info back to me and I wil take it from there. So my son lawyer just sumbitted the rest of the paperwork this morning. I have a really great feeling that my son is finally going to get his benefits that we’ve been fighting for since 2009. Is this a good sign

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi, Tanysha. Frankly what stands out to me is that the lawyer needed the judge to tell him/her that the forms were needed. I am guessing that these are the standard work limitations forms which SSA uses. Unless the lawyer had previously tried to get them and the doctors were not cooperative (or a similar reason), I am not sure why it took the judge to get this started. There may be a good reason but this is what stands out to me. 

    On the plus side, it sounds like the judge is looking out for your son’s interests and wants to make sure the necessary evidence is in. 

    I hope it all works out for you and your son. Good luck Tanysha!

  • Hill Sheryl1970

    my sister moved to colordo , she s been there for almost 6 yrs . when she applyed for ss she got hers in two weeks lol i guess she had already been diagnosed paranoya scisofranic she got it quick my best friend went to cailafornia to stay with her mom and her mom had her ss within 6 months diagnoised bypolar . me myself i hav been diagnoised with mdd manic depressen and i just went i front of a law judge it was a video hearing , on nov 8 2011 i have been waiting 2 n half yrs but te judgetold me an my attrney we shold hear something in about 30 days , well its been 30 days and im praying i get it my atterney semed confadent wish me luck thanks and i wish u all best of luck as well

  • Tracy Spencer

    I had my disability hearing in Sept. 2011. I have called and checked on the case and as of right now Dec. 16, 2011 everything is at the decision writer. I was wondering if this was a good sign for my case to be at the decsion writer? The office told me that the decision writer picked up the case on Dec. 6, 2011. I was wondering if you could give me your opinion if it might be approved or not?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi, Tracy. 

    A 90 day wait for a decision is not necessarily a bad sign:

    I can’t give you an opinion about your case. However, the time it takes to render a decision is not a strong indicator of the outcome. 

    Good luck!

  • Marcellakester

    I went for my hearing back in august. As of dec 14, the judge made his decision. Is there a way i can find out what his decision was before the mail? (As in, is there somewhere i can cal and they will tell me)? Also, from what ive read…it will take another 3ms at min. To get a paymebt…what if ur backdated???? Ty.

  • Tracy Spencer

    From my understanding my case had been sitting there waiting for a decision writer to pick it up since October. I’m from Indiana and the lady’s at the office said there is so many people waiting for disabily and they r short staffed that’s why it has taken so long for me to hear something. The judge had made her decision a month after I had my hearing. I have read up on some stuff and from my understanding it’s a good sign of being approved if it goes to an under writer. I have dealt with my back problems for 10 yrs. One of the Dr’s that I was checked by put me on a restriction out of a 8 hr day I can only stand, walk for 2 hrs and I can only sit for 1 hour. I have been told that I have a lower back like an 80yr old. I have like 3 buldging discs, DD, bone spurs, arthritis, a tear somewhere in the lower back. My neck has mild scoliosis, DD and nerve r being pinched. What do u think now about my case?

    Thank you,
    Tracy S 

  • TomaszStasiuk

    If you have an attorney signed up with the SSA ERE system, s/he can check online to see if the decision has been entered. The decision is in the electronic file about 10-14 days before the paper copies arrives in the mail. 

    After the decision is entered, SSA will begin processing the benefits (back benefits and ongoing monthly benefits)This post discusses benefit processing after the decision is entered: luck Marcel!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    What you describe sounds very good. But….

    Good luck Tracy!

  • Tanysha2114

    I called to see about my son case and they told me I should hear something within 8 to 12 weeks y so long? That the judge was working on it as we spoke and he had to send it out to a decision writer then the decision writer have to send it back to the judge to sign off on it. What does this mean?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    To the best of my knowledge, the judge send out his notes to a decision writer, who writes a draft of the decision. The judge then can approve, edit, or make significant changes to the draft decision. Once the decision is approved, it is entered into the file and a copy is mailed to you. 

    Of course, during this process the judge is still reviewing cases which are coming up, holding hearings, drafting decisions, etc. So, it all takes some time. 

  • Tanysha2114

    So what’s the percentage of my son being approved? I saw his approval rates and it was 57 percent and his denial percentage was 19 percent. So the judge writes the decision and then sends it off to a decision writer and do they write all the decision or the ones that’s good? Now 8 to 12 weeks is that a good thing to wait or is that a bad sign?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Decision writers handle both approvals and denials – so you cannot read too much into the judge using a decision writer. 

    As far as chances, it really depends on the evidence in the case: to make guesses based on how long the case is taking is as useful as tying to read tea leaves.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  • Kcanally

    i have a ? i had my hearing yesterday 01/09/2011 and the judge only swore me in asked my name ss# and date of birth and then he said that in  this case he found the mental rfc to be less than seditary ,then he said this hearing has ended and goodluck?  my lawyer thinks i might of won but is not sure , can anyone possibly help me with this confusion??

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It sounds good. Judges rarely abbreviate hearings to such an extent except to approve the case. And the “less than sedentary” comment is a wink in the same direction. 

    However, you generally trust the person in the room. Your lawyer is in the best position to figure out which way the judge is leaning. Anyone else (myself included) is just guessing with very limited information. 

  • Jladams

    Hello my name is Jennifer and after reading the post I have noticed the time of hearing from the judge’s desicion in each state seems different. Could this be possible? I just had a hearing on Jan. 6th, 2011 of course the judge did not tell me if I was approved or not, but my lawyer seemed happy when it was over a he said, “that went really well.” He also stated that I will here something in four weeks. Since the hearing I have be suffering with anxiety because I have come to realize the wait is almost over, the struggle is almost over. I have been diagnosed with bi-polar 1,depression, and had back sugery last year from broken lumbars, spinal fluid leakage, and 3 deteriated disc. Do these these three problems qualify as a reason to even sign up for social security? I go to many doctors and my medical charts are huge. I also noticed someone posting about levels of education, can this cause a negative response on a case? I have also read from your postings if a lawyer has acsess to the SSA ERE system he or she can check online to see if a desicion has been made. Is there any other way I can check into it myself to get a response or speed up the process to get a response? Thank you for your time and effort you take to answer all of our questions.


  • Jt6463

    I had my my hearing on Jan 9th.  There was a vocational expert in the room who went through a list of jobs she thought I could still perform and then narrowed it down.  The judge’s final question to her was “will this woman be able to hold a job?” and the expert answered  no.  Is this a good sign or should I not read into it?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It *is* a good sign. Just keep in mind that one sign is not everything:

    Good luck!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Processing times differ from state to state and even judge to judge. The conditions you describe certainly could qualify for disability. However, it all depends on the details (which I do not have). 

    Only the lawyer can access the ERE to check for the decision. However, you can call the hearing office to see if the case has been “closed” which means that a decision in the ERE file. Of course, you will get a copy of the decision by mail. However, that is often 10 days or so after it is available in ERE. 

    Good luck! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  • Cerebralhaze

    My husband’s hearing was Dec. 2011. The judge never asked the vocational expert or SSA represenative any questions what-so-ever, only a few to my husband and his lawyer. The last thing the judge said was “very good, that’s all I need.” Afterwards the lawyer congratulated my husband.(I’m not getting excited until I see it in writing)  My husband is also a disabled vet and his TDIU hinges on the approval of SSI.

  • Nelliehernandez82

    It has already been 10 months since my daughters hearing and no word yet. I work in the medical field and I know of several patients that have gotten their decision right at their hearing. Some just get approved right before the hearing is scheduled.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    10 months is *way* outside the normal range to get a hearing decision. Have you contacted the hearing office to verify that a decision has not been entered (and for whatever reason, you haven’t gotten it)?

  • Disabled1

    Its been four months since my hearing and still no word, hoping to hear that im approved soon because 120 a month from dshs isnt cutting it.

  • tracy

    my son’s father’s disability was approved back in july of 2011.  him and his oldest son have already recieved there backpay and monthly payments…his oldest son was put on his claim when he first sighned up for his disability,  whereas i had to have dna on our son.  my case was denied because we hadn’t had dna done yet.  i have finally recieved the dna stating that he was the father and had an appeal for reconsideration done march 1st.  they told me it could take six more months,  why so long?  what’s the sonnest you’ve seen cases like this take to get payment and what can i do to speed it up?  thank-u

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I see few cases involving paternity. However six months for a reconsideration (not a hearing) is not unusual. The reason is simply a backlog of cases. 

  • N9sgn

    My hearing was in April, 2011.  We had a two month delay because the ALJ’s office misplaced some documents.  I am still waiting for a decision.  Since my hearing, my condition has worsened and I now meet the listings for my conditioned.  My lawyer and my senators office both tell me that the SSA office is just way backed up but I can’t last much longer since my medical bills are going through the roof.  Is there anything I can do to fast track this?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Talk to your lawyer about requesting expedited processing of your case. Cases can be flagged to more faster for dire need.

  • N9sgn

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply.  I will call my lawyer on Monday.

  • Okenfl

    Once your attorney files for the Dire Need what is the next step and what is a realistic time frame for the 1st payment? the case has been open for over a year already.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    The next step after filing a dire need request is Social Security (or the hearing office) reviews it. There is no set processing time. In my experience, if SSA finds dire need, the hearing in less time than usual for the hearing office. If not, there is no response. About the only thing the attorney can do is to call the hearing office to inquire if the judge has reviewed the dire need request. 

  • Gabbeec

    I went to my disability hearing on March 21,2012 and after the hearing, my lawyer said if the judge goes for everything that my primary Dr. has limited my abilities to then it a win win but i don’t know?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Unfortunately, that’s the situation in most hearings. If the judge accepts the claimant’s doctor’s opinion, it’s a win. If not, there are problems. 

  • Gabbeec

    my lawyer said it would be 4-6 weeks until i received a decision. is thats an appropriate time frame?

  • Gabbeec

    How could the Judge not accept a doctor’s opinion with multiple peices  of evidents before them?

  • Gabbeec

    Have you ever seen a case where the judge went against a Doctor’s decision of a cliant???

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Wait times vary by office and by judge. In Colorado, I normally estimate between 45 and 90 days. Your lawyer should have a handle on wait times in your area.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    In the majority of disability cases, it is not a question a whether the judge will accept the doctor’s opinion, it is *which* doctor’s opinion the judge accepts. There are the claimant’s treating doctor’s opinion, the Social Security consultative examiner’s opinion, a medical examiner’s opinion, a medical consultant’s opinion. 

    If a judge had to accept the treating providers opinion above all others, Social Security cases would be a lot simpler. But a judge gets to consider all the evidence and determine the weight given to all of the opinions. 

    Talk to your lawyer about your case. Ask what evidence supports your claim and what evidence might result in a denial. 

  • Meekie81

    Hello, my son had his hearing Jan 5 of 2012 after being denied twice. He has had asthma since birth , ADHD, and is in speech therapy at school. The judge was very nice and stated that he needed to gather my son’s last dr visits since his medication dosages were increased. He then stated that as soon as the records are received he can make his decision. I just called to check and the last of the records were just received last week. She stated that his file had been sent to the writting department by the ALJ. That was really fast considering that the last of the medical records were sent in last week. Does this mean it’s bad with it being sent over there so quickly?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Trying to determine if something is good or bad based on how slowly or quickly a certain event happens is like reading tea leaves and about as useful :)

    Cases really depend on the evidence : 

  • Inhisanointing


    i had my hearing on the 22nd of March and i called today and was told that my case was closed and that i should receive a letter within 10 days what does that mean?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Typically, that means that a decision has been made and entered into the SSA system (which closes out the case with the hearing office). The decisions are mailed from central locations back east, and it usually takes about 10 days to receive the decision.

  • Inhisanointing

    being that it took only a week to get a decision does that sound like a good thing? I felt good after the hearing but you never know.

  • felicia

    Hello my name is felica Im so stress I  have and 5year old daughter with adhd and also odd I applied for benfits for her on january 31-2012 and got denied.I live in state of philadelphia so now im wating  for and hearning infront and judge goes anybody no how long its gonna take

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hopefully, it will turn out well for you. I will keep my fingers crossed.

  • Meekie81

    do ALJs usually ask for last Dr. visits reports or proof of medicine increase/changes at a hearing, and states that the quicker the requested documents are sent in the quicker he can make a decision. And then once everything was turned in, less than two days after it was sent to the writting department. I guess what i’m trying to ask is, does this look favorable maybe just a little? Or is this just routine, we were even sent to a CE prior to the hearing, and the physician gave a very good report for my son’s conditions.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    You are asking to read tea leafs. :) 

    Social Security disability cases are not one thing, they are everything that SSA has: 

    I will keep my fingers crossed for your son’s case.

  • Jack

     From what I Understand, after 5 days, and depending on the person you are talking to on the phone with ssa, and how respectful you are with them etc, they can tell you whether you been approved or denied even before the letter is delivered.  I just want to know the truth in this.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Social Security does not speculate, hint, or disclose the decision until it is issued. The only exception is when the judge at the hearing tells the claimant how s/he is going to rule.

    Trying to “sweet talk” the receptionist at the hearing office is not likely to work because 1) they don’t know the decision until it is issued, 2) even if they work with the judge and have a 90% certainty of which way the judge is leaning on a case, it would be an *amazingly* severe breach of their duty to speculate, hint or disclose the decision. 

    However, once the file has been closed and the decision is in the mail, then, and it is still only a maybe, the clerk may tell you how the judge has ruled. Typically, though, they will just tell you that you will get the decision in the mail. 

  • Meekie81

    After being denied at hearing level by an ALJ, If appealed will you get the same ALJ at the next appeal level?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    The next level after a hearing with an ALJ is the Social Security Appeals Council. The hearing judge does not decide the appeal.

    However, if the Appeals Council remands the case for another hearing, the new hearing is often with the same judge.

  • Rhannah30

    I had my hearing, after the judge and my attorney talked, they talked to the medical expert, then stopped the case.  she said that is all she needed.  she did not talk to the vocational expert who was there.  is that a bad sign?  the ME said i was disabled.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    While I guarantee that this means an approval, in my experience this is often a very good sign. Good luck!

  • Sonyam1991

    I had my hearing march 22 2012.. i didnt have a laywer but i think i did ok by myself. after the hearing i had to go to my doctors an he had to sign a paper for ssi… what would that mean?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well… what did Social Security want your doctor to sign?

  • Sonyam1991

    im not actually sure.. just what i was trying to get ssi for i guess..

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I suspect it is a RFC form (but that is just a guess):

  • Sonyam1991

    with my doctor filling that out does that give me a chance?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It depends on what the doctor says and the other records in your case. Cases are won or lost on the details — and I don’t know the details in your case.

  • Leleapril3

    can u get disability if ur have a loweri.q inschool or u been inresource

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Possibly. Social Security can approve disability cases for low IQ or other school problems.

  • Brianbanks29

     I have degenerative and hernaited disc disorder. I also have Morapghy. I had my hearing in front of the judge last Wensday. They said that i was not able to work that is what the vocational worker and the judge said. is that a good sign

  • Prtyeyes68

    My advice to those seeking disability benefits. I hired a law Firm from the very beginning and I applied in October of 2010 and got my case expedited and the ALJ was able to move my case up. I had my hearing April 16th 2012 and my decision of Full Disability Benefits was made at the hearing which is known as a (bench hearing). I recommend this Law Firm that is nationwide. Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin 1-800-618-4878. My Case Manager was Melissa Gallmier and you can say Lisa in Claremont, NC referred you to this Law Firm. Good Luck!! They won my case for me!!

  • Lisa

     No you won’t. You will move up to a higher court. I highly recommend you hire a Law Firm if you don’t have one.

  • Crystal Wooters

    I had my video hearing 3/14 my ME did the same thing but put numbers with each one and said equal to or greater than….The Judge asked onset date and closed the case….My atty said he has never seen that and that we won….Now starting to doubt. No award letter or anything and its been 7wks………Still Waiting

  • TomaszStasiuk

    While I can’t guarantee that this means an approval, in my experience this is often a very good sign. Good luck!

  • Antonio Miller

    i had a hearing about three weeks ago about me being disabled and the hearing was on the computer. i haved suffered with problems from head truma from being in a car accident at two weeks old. This means i have had this condition all of my life and now the results i may hear is that im no longer disabled and how would i go about recieving help for this situation im in.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi, Antonio. Well, even though looking for help after the hearing and before the decision is pretty late, I still recommend contacting some local attorneys to see if they can review your case to see if anything needs to be or can be done. Good luck!

  • Rcg

    Hi, I had my hearing on 1-11-12. I still have not received a decision. What can I do? Not sure why it is so long. I was told 4-6 weeks. I live in Illinois.

  • Cutie5_0

    Okay well I went to my SSI Disability hearing..My lawyer said she feels it went well and the judge seem understanding…Then the judge tells me my case will be open for 10 to 14 more days and in a month he will make a decison…So what do you think?…;)

  • N9sgn

    Have you ever had someone wait over a year for a decision?  It’s now been 13 months and counting for me.  My lawyer says the judge will tell her nothing about why there is a delay.  In the meantime, I have given my lawyer further medical records showing that I now meet the listings for my condition (chronic anemia).  I was on the borderline when I had my hearing.  Is my lawyer doing all she can do or is the judge able to just ignore it.  I can’t get a satisfactory answer and I’m very frustrated.  This case is in New Mexico.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Judges are supposed to consider all records submitted up through the issuance of the decision. Usually, I try not to bombard the judge with *cumulative* (aka “more of the same”) records after a hearing if the original records properly support the point I am trying to make. 

    13 months is way beyond the pale to wait for a hearing decision. Also, I can’t tell you if your attorney is doing all she can. I am not in a position to say. 

    One thing to keep in mind is that if a person provides evidence that they *now* meet a listing, it can be a double edged sword. It potentially increases the chance of being found disabled. However, it may suggest to the judge that the person should only be approved *as of meeting the listing.* If that happens, the back benefits (from before meeting the listing) may go away. 

  • TomaszStasiuk

    All I can say is I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you:

  • Cutie5_0

    Another thing is that the vocational gave a list of five jobs and the judge narrow it down to cause of my disabilities 2, but then when my lawyer ask her with my condition (hurts if I sit up or down to long, hurts bending, even short walks)…An then the vocational said no because at some point i will have to bend at some point…Right now I’m on pins and needles waiting…Is that a good sign?..;)

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It depends on how well supported the limitations are in the evidence. 

    Trust the person in the room: talk to your lawyer, get his/her impressions. No one can tell you how your hearing went better than someone who was there :)

  • Cutie5_0

    Well I know she said it went very well because we have strong case and evidence of each disabilities, plus the judge was understanding…It’s just the wait that’s killing me…;)

  • Regina Tonkin


  • TomaszStasiuk


  • TomaszStasiuk

    You can also ask your lawyer to check the electronic file for the decision. Often decisions are put in up to 10 days before they arrive in the mail. The local office/processing center can often begin working on determining benefits once the electronic decision is in. Some of my clients have gotten the money in their accounts *before* getting the decision. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it can happen, and it is a nice surprise.

  • Todd

    hi everyone .. 
     i had a hearing back in feb 2012 i still have not gotten anything back yet , my lawyer says no news is good news , dont know how true that is anyone know ? went down to my local social security office last week to change my direct deposit info and the guy there told me there was no decision  but it did have a date saying 4 25 12 im not sure if this was when the judge released it or the decision writes did .. any help would be great .
     thank you for your time

  • Todd

     also my back doctor was missing some of my med records they were faxed to the judges office 2 weeks later ..

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Todd. Trust the person in the room. If your lawyer (who knows your file and was there at the hearing) says it went well, what can anyone else (who has no idea of your case) possibly say. :)

    Good luck. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

  • Todd

     thank you tom .. i need luck .. its just my lawyer was missing some of my med records but we did get them turned in on time ..  so i know that could be prolonging my decision …

  • Gthotrod2004

    where on the net can i check on my claim after a hearing has been held?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    You or your lawyer can call the hearing office to check the status. Your lawyer can log in to the ERE system to see if a decision has been entered. However, Social Security does not have a public net-accessible way of checking the status. 

  • Cass_i2002

    The whole system needs to be changed. A person gets denied, gets a lawyer and after some times gets approved. Why should a person “EVEN” have to say  I won??? Is it a criminal case – NO is it a law suit? NO. How can a person be denied and then approved for any of this? They should have certain guidelines and they should Follow them period and its clear that is not happening. Instead of getting lawyers to “WIN” something your entitled to any way it would seem ( if you finally get approved) a lawyer needs to go after them  and sue them for not following the law!

  • Cass_i2002

      Some one needs to fight to change the way this the system does things. People are not trying to win a law suit, no one should have to go in front of a Judge or hire a lawyer, to be approved for something they should be and probably are entitled to in the 1st place. Something WAY wrong about this! Why do you need a lawyer for something you are not entitled to any way and how can a lawyer get you something FROM THE GOV> you are NOT entitled to? And IF you are entitled to it {as it would seem because so many people get approved after they hire a lawyer} then why in Gods name do you need a lawyer or need to go in front of a judge. Its broke and needs to be FIXED!!!

  • Karen Greenstein

    To those of you who have been following this thread, I want to let everyone know that 13 months after my hearing (in New Mexico) I was finally approved for full benefits.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Congratulations, Karen!

  • todd

    i agree .. im still waiting and waiting .. wish i could find out either way .. this is so stressful with my lower back injury from the doctor i see in her statement it even says cant sit long periods of time cant stand long periods of time , has a hard time diving long periods of time .. i can not preform the work task i could before i was injured .. i have been waiting since feb 8th 2012 .. call my lawyer and they say nothing and that just stresses me out more .. she says even if she did call the hearing office they dont tell them anything . the longer i wait i guess the more chance i didnt win my case true ?
    if anyone out there could shed a lil light on this and maybe help me through the stress of this would be grateful .. all the reading i do on the internet there is so much mixes info , some places say yes others say no i have no idea ..

  • todd

    Rcg … i feel you my friend .. i have been waiting since 2-8-2012 and still no word .. i guess all we can do is keep our fingers and toes crossed and pray for the best

  • BrendaKay

    Hi Tom, I had my hearing on March 13, 2012 during my hearing the judge had asked if I would feel comfortable in changing my aod to another date that is directly after my unemployment ended. Also the VE told the judge there are no jobs that I could work. Does this sound to be good or bad?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Since I don’t know your case I can’t tell you. I’ve written about judges asked to amend the AOD:

    And the impact of unemployment here:

    Sometimes, judges view trying to get Social Security disability benefits for the same time a person got unemployment as “double dipping.” The regulations allow it, but they give the judge wide discretion.

  • BrendaKay

    Tom, The only reason I was getting unemployment was after my husband and I were married, my husband had gotten a job in another state and I had to quit my job and I got unemployment.

  • BrendaKay

    Tom, Also on my conditions, there was a VE at the hearing and the judge asked due to my conditions is there any jobs that I could do within the national and local economy and he said there are no jobs at all. I filed in 2010 and my hearing with the ALJ was in March 2012. This is when the judge asked me to explain about the unemployment and then asked if I would change the AOD. I don’t understand how the back pay works. Ugh, such a confusing program for the back pay !!!! By the way Tom, Thank you for helping all of us understand the events that we have to go through with the SSA, Your time for me is very appreciated !!! :)

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It sounds like you are saying you were on unemployment for non-medical/non-disability reasons (stopped working because of relocation). Social Security can pay disability benefits if an individual is unable to work due to a disability. If an individual stops working for other reasons (moving, laid off, taking care of a family member), Social Security will likely have difficulty approving disability benefits during that time frame.

  • TomaszStasiuk
  • BrendaKay

    I do have a disability and I don’t want ssdi for the time I was on unemployment. I know that disability is for disabled. I do understand that I most likely won’t get disability for the time I was on Unemployment.

  • Tearra Jenkins


  • Cutie5_0

    Yes!..I GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!….Thank You Lord And TomaszStasiuk For Being Such A Postive, Informative Social Security..;)

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Congratulations! And thank you for the kind words!

  • Bre

    So far as of today it has been 107 days since my hearing with the ALJ. After reading all the post and info, it appears that I have been denied. Can you tell me what do I do to appeal the decision at the Appeals Council?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Whoa! Don’t just assume that you have been denied. You can give the hearing office a call to see if a decision has been issued. The number is on the notice of hearing. If you no longer have that, you can always just call the SSA 800 number 1-800-772-1213 (however, they do not always have the most up to date information).

    If a decision has been issued less than 10 days ago, the decision may still be in the mail. If it has been longer, let the hearing office know you have not received it.
    If an appeal is necessary, check out this:

  • David Brewer

    Seen ALJ early Oct. 2011, durning the meeting ALJ asked, the work specialist if employment could be fount an emfatic” NO”. So, but still she ALJ stated that the two years that you worked would be ” concedured trial work period”. That the back pay would reduce your back pay. So, what do you think of this situation? It has been twenty years in the making. Title 6 and title 16. I’m a totally disable veterans well over !00% but this took over great period of time. I had to do everything myself. I want to go to federal court. I have been discriminated way to long.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi David.

    You don’t mention what the outcome of the hearing was.

    If you are still within the appeal period, you may still be able to file an appeal. It is even possible to appeal a partially favorable decision if an individual feels a fully favorable decision should have been issued. However, I would strongly recommend reviewing the decision with a lawyer before appealing a partially favorable decision.

  • Tammy Michael


  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Tammy, I’m sorry about your dog and everything else that is piling up on you.

    From what you describe, it looks good. However, the best person to make an assessment is your lawyer. S/he knows the case and was there at the hearing. If your lawyer is signed up with the SSA ERE system, s/he can check the electronic file to see if a decision has been issued. Since there is often a 10 to 14 day gap between the decision being entered and it being received in the mail, this provides an early look at the decision.

    However, if a decision has not been issued, there is not much that can be done to “hurry the judge along.” The average time for a decision is between 45 to 90 days. As of this writing, you are just on the cusp of the 90 day mark. So, a decision may be issued shortly.

    If there is no decision in the file, you or your lawyer can call the hearing office (not the local SSA office) to ask for the status. However, hearing office provide minimal information (in writing, with a decision writer, closed and in the mail, etc).

    Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer. Good luck Tammy!

  • Jaesean Reidout

    I had my atty’s to apply on my behalf in January 2011

  • Kim Reese Keithline

    I have a hearing coming up and am very nervous my lawyer said I have a lot of medical evidence which is great and all my dr’s are on my side so he says I have a very good case but my question is I see everyone talking about a VE and Medical expert at the hearing do you ever meet them before? On my denial letter SS put that they didn’t think I could do my current job or any other job that I have had but they thought I could do something although that wasn’t stated in the letter what that might be does this factor in?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Ability to do other work is part of the disability evaluation:

    Talk to your lawyer about it for more information. Good luck at your hearing!

  • nessa

    i had my hearing really didnt understand it but they asked the ve if i could do any jobs she said yes light duty work no more than 6 hours and said i cant do my past work anymore. they further went on to talk about other stuff i didn’t understand but then she said you would get your decision in the mail in45-60 days i asked the lawyer what she thought she said it can go either way i just wanted to know what you think i have bi poplar and ptsd and i have glaucoma and cataract and neuropathy corridal optic damage to my left eye traumatic i dont know i am just anxious driving me crazy

  • j.f.robertson

    i had hearing on Aug 23 2012 ,it been 1 mouth 2 week ,the judge have it h=in her heads how long do it take for they get back to me?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    In my experience in Colorado, it often takes between 30 to 90 days for the decision to be issued. However, each case, and each judge, is different.

  • NVChris

    My case for back pay and benefits for Bipolar, anxiety and ptsd started over 2 and a half years a go. Back in my lawyer and I attended the hearing and 2 month later the judge sent me to a pysc doc after the hearing. to me that is back wards, I should have been sent prior so all the info was there for him. I live in NV and from experience NV is difficult to aquire anything period, even food stamps. I am now almost going on 3 yrs and have worked only a few times just to get by, but now I am mentally unable. I have tried free care but it takes 4-6 mos for service and free meds. I have gone 3 yrs without my meds and proper doc appointments and quiet frankely, i am at my witts end! My latest doc evlauation by the state is now in front of the judge, but I guess they dont care that some of us are actually sick and need the help asap. Is this normal?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    I don’t practice in Nevada. You mention that you have a lawyer. Why not ask him/her if your experience is normal in Nevada.

  • nozysue58

    hi i was wondering did u ever get ur disability? reading most of these stories,it can be distressing.i live in tx,filed for my disability on 8-10-2011,got the denials,then went in front of alj .judgeon 10-5-2012.the judge was from louisiana,because tx was so backed up.i have worked sense i was 16 yrs old.most of my work in my older yrs was taking care of the elderly so, with my age and heavy lifting my back is worned down,plus other issues have appeared degenerative disc disease.fibromyalgia,neurothapy,diabetes and somemore things.I have noticed more drug addicts,drunks,illiterate people get disability well,the one that is paid by the state because they havent worked enough to earn credits.I have pd my credits,and no i need help,if the state can fix me,then i would love to go back to work..ty nozysue58

  • Paul Freed


  • TomaszStasiuk

    As noted in the post, it often takes between 45 to 90 days for benefits to be paid out after the decision. However, there are two kinds of “bench decisions.” There is the kind where the oral decision is the final decision. There is also the kind where the oral decision simply tells you how the judge is going to rule in a paper decision (to be completed later). If a paper decision is to follow, the 45 to 90 days doesn’t start until the the paperwork is in.

  • Adam Ryan

    Aloha. I had my hearing this Monday and was told they would get a fully favorable decision out me as soon as they possibly could. They agreed with the onset date of oct 2010. So am I correct in assuming I will receive ALL backpay and my monthly payments? I’m really hoping I get this approval letter in the next 2 weeks. I can’t survive another 3 months waiting.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    There’s the decision and then there is the processing. Take a look at

    If you can’t hold out, it is possible to call or send a letter to the judge’s attention explaining the situation and requesting the file be flagged for expedited processing for dire need:

    Good luck!

  • Mr. Brodie

    I have had my hearing and am waiting on the decision. The place where I was employed for 28 years has been paying me long term disability. I have two questions: 1) how do I know how much I will receive each month (will it be less than my company has been paying?)
    and 2) I see all these comments about back pay. I assume I won’t see any back pay since my employer has been paying long term disability to me but how does this work? Do I just tell my employer and they stop my disability pay?

  • Alainia

    Hey so I had my hearing mar 21St and due to my lawyers laziness the judge got the additional info on June 3Rd and on June 18th made a decision June 21 St I called 4 times the 800# where I got two ppl saying approved one saying denied and one saying it’s not in the system yet I HAFTA wait for it in the mail so I called the USSR office she said I don’t see the decision in the computer you’ll HAFTA wait so IM like oh lord Jesus I applied for ssi Dec 2010 I have we’ll documented records my illness has been going on since I was a child and got really bad in 2006 at the hearing he said he was ready to make his decision but had to evasgaluate my sga for work I have done as I have 17 point thus far but I didn’t apply for ssdi what’s your take on this

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi, Alainia. If your lawyer uses the SSA electronic Appointed Representative / Electronics Records Express system, s/he should be able to access your SSA file and see what the decision is. Good luck!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    You can get an idea of your benefits on your Social Security Statement. If you do not have one, you can print one out at

    Regarding the LTD, take a look at

  • Paul Freed


  • TomaszStasiuk
  • TomaszStasiuk

    Trust your lawyer, s/he knows your case and was at the hearing. Social Security disability cases are about the details:

  • david

    My son was denied 2 times for ssi and hired an attorney in june. We received a letter stating his hearing is in sept. Seeing it was granted so quickly, is this a good or bad sign

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi David,

    Don’t worry about figuring out the significance of the timing. Work with the lawyer to make sure the necessary evidence is in your son’s file. That will decide the outcome of your son’s case and it is something you and your son’s lawyer have some control over:

    Good luck to you and your son!

  • ardra

    A Lawyer wouldn’t take me, said they didn’t think they could win so I just said forget it wasn’t about to keep calling lawyers. I took 2 witnesses it was July 17. The hearing last about 45 minutes at the end the vocational expert was asked could I do my passed job? She said no, He said what others jobs can she do? She said cleaning, factory and housekeeper? He said missing 4 days a work a month in her condition can she work.? She said no its no jobs she can do. And that was it, he thank the witnesses for being his eyes and ears and said have a good day….I did bring all my medication with me which was 3, migraines, ptsd social anxiety meds. judge wrote the name of the meds I was taking down . He was really nice. So I want to know if the vocational expert said that there is no jobs you can do is that a good thing?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Adra,

    It is a good thing if the vocational expert (VE) says there are no jobs available. However, the judge often gives multiple hypotheticals to the VE. Some allow for some work, others preclude all work. It is up the the judge to then decide which hypothetical (and response) to use in the decision.

    I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

  • tgr

    hello had my hearing in NJ may 31st 2013…still no decision as of 8/12/13 per the newark nj attorney says all 5 of my different doctors reports were very thorough with at least 2 i think it was proving that the condition met the social security definition of disabled..he felt very confident it seemed..he has been practicing 40 plus years..that made me feel a little better…but was wondering why still after 2 and a half months still no decision? is it a backlog issue or is it a denial ?? cant handle another issue really..its hard enough being ill.the ve said no jobs also..and the judge said my testimony was very attorney asked him to consider the 2 reports which showed i meet the ssa’s def of disabled into his decision making i believe..and the judge said yes he will..not sure if that was just a hint or not…

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi TDR. I know the wait can be very difficult. However, what you describe sounds very good. If your lawyer thinks things look good, then I would not worry. Sometimes, there are backlogs in getting decisions out. Some judges are also just slower than others when it comes to getting decisions out. So, who know! Hang in there. It should not be much longer. :)

  • ardra

    I received a letter saying he received my medical records
    and his going to make a decision in 10 days if he doesn’t hear from me for a supplemental hearing. I’m assuming that doesn’t mean I got denied, I’m just not getting a fully favorable decision if I get approved.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    What you describe is simply procedural. If there is new evidence, there is the possibility to have a supplemental hearing. In my opinion, it does not suggest any particular outcome. Stay strong!

  • pandamorris

    I was denied in June for SSI, appealed online and received notice today that the judge found me fully favorable for SSI. I applied in March of this year. I have several qualifying conditions. Now I just wonder how long it will take to move to the next step, also my husband works, so I am wondering how that may affect things. :/
    Any advice would be helpful!

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, a since Supplemental Security Income (SSI) looks at income from nearly all sources, a spouses earnings can be a problem:

    Unfortunately it is possible to be found disabled by the Social Security judge and also not qualify financially for SSI benefits. Hopefully, that wont happen to you.

  • charles duncan

    I got a verbal approval granting me disability and backpay a month ago in atlanta ga from a federal judge and today i recieved a letter from social security denying my claim. What should i do and is this normal?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Have you talked to your lawyer about what happened? There is a lot if information missing in your question. You need someone who knows the history of your case, the issues at the federal level, what the federal decision required SSA to do, and the reasons SSA denied the claim. Without knowing all of those things, it is impossible to guess what the next step should be. So, talk to your lawyer. If you did not have a lawyer at the federal level, you may want to strongly consider getting one. That’s the best I can tell you. Well, that, and keep an eye on the deadline.

  • princess

    Hi i just went to my hearing in sep 24th 2013 an the ve said the samething too i wnted to knw did u get a decision yet?an wut was the decision….

  • Julie Jo Koehler

    Hi Tom, I had a hearing 37 days ago where the ALJ ruled favorably. I’ve called the local office and found that the decision writer has finished the writing and editing but it’s still sitting on his desk and not yet given to the ALJ for review. I know some of the ssa employees were furloughed during the shutdown, but not the decision writer on my case, I was very lucky, one of the last cases to get assigned before the shutdown. I’m in AZ. I already have direct deposit set up. I know it happens often that some people get the $ backpay deposited even BEFORE the decision letter reaches them. How much faster will my case make it through the payment center that I’m already set up? And what is your best educated guess of WHEN I will hear something. The local office of course can’t guess-it’s just been SO LONG (almost 4 years) and I’m so sick and I’m so broke. I have systemic lupus-while I’m grateful that this is here for me I can’t tell you how anxious I am to have it all done and over and get some needed help. Thanks, Julie

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Short answer: no idea (beyond what is the post). There are a lot of variables here including how long it will take the judge to sign the decision (that is the big unknown) to which kind of SSA you are applying for SSDI (processed at a regional payment center) and/or SSI (processed at the local office). Generally, cases are paid out from 14 to 90 days after the ALJ signs the decision. But, nothing starts until that single event happens.

    At least you know the outcome, though. Right? There is some consolation there.

  • Julie Jo Koehler

    True. It’s for SSDI, no SSI. It’ll be processed locally. Just getting antsy. Thanks for the fast reply! JJ

  • t

    where can i get some kind of income while my disability is pending in augusta ga?

  • t

    where can i get some kind of income while my disability is pending in augusta ga?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    States often have programs which provide “interim assistance” for individuals applying for Social Security benefits. The programs go by different names in different states. Contact your local Department of Social Services/Department of Human Services for more information. Good luck!

  • mickel

    I had my hearing last week. The judge only posed 1 hypothetical question to the VE which resulted in “no jobs”. Do I take that as the hearing went well? My lawyer was awful, making mistakes, the lawyers nerves were more shot than my nerves were.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Mickel. Generally speaking, getting only one hypothetical which results in no jobs is a good sign. It suggests the judge is giving the VE a softball pitch. Just keep in mind that a disability case isn’t about one thing, it is everything that is in your file.

    Sorry about your lawyer. That sucks.

  • deena

    hired a attorney went before a judge hearing on Oct 9th 2013 got all med records in had been denied twice before this hearing suffer from ptsd depression back injuries knee injuries supportive records from my mental and physical doctors whats my chances in a favorable decision and how long will this decision take

  • prissana

    I had my hearing in September 2013 which a VE was suppose to be present but wasn’t. The hearing was no more than 15 mins & as of now I have not yet heard from them. I called the SSA to check the status of my claim & was told that the judge have made his decision & it is sitting in the office. I will possibly receive the letter by the end of next month. What does all this mean? Thank you.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Deena, your lawyer is in the best position to discuss how your hearing went, your chance of success and processing times in your area. Ask him/her. :)

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Prissana, it sounds like the decision is just awaiting the judge’s signature. After that, you will receive a copy in the mail. That may happen in 10 to 30 days (as a rough estimate).

  • joe

    I just want to know what kind of paperwork would my lawyer have to sign after my ssid hearing that is what the ssa told me the judge sent my paperwork to him to sign but what is he signing anybody know ?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Well, you can certainly ask your lawyer. Anything else is just guessing. My guess is that it may be a 1696 appointment if representative form if you had a different person at the hearing compared to who originally signed a 1696.

  • gina

    It took only 5months
    For my hearing for.its been 2mont sens my hearing, I was wondering how long it talk to hear anything on it ?

  • gina

    Typo take

  • steve

    I had my hearing on nov. 15 of last yr and still haven’t heard a word from disability and the expert witness that disability provided on their behalf agreed with my lawyer that I was disabled…just wondering why these judges drag their feet…are they just lazy at times…as of today is my 70th day since the hearing in indy..but the judge was in w. va…it was a video hearing…does this slow things down?…and is the judge bound to what their expert witness says at the hearing….thanks

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Steve. If you haven’t asked your lawyer these questions, you really should. Lawyers get to know the judges they practice in front of, their moods, their pet peeves and the little signs they give which give at least some insight into how they are looking at a case. Video hearing do not necessarily slow anything down. It is not unusual for a case to take 45 to 90 days to get a decision. And your case is right there in the middle of that time frame. Good luck!

  • Josephs327

    It’s been over 160 days from my hearing date I have not received a response. I’ve called the SS office directly and they’ve told me judge has not made a decision. I called my lawyer he says he can’t force judge to make decision… I am going for my second back surgery and really need the money. What can I do???

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It is possible to complain to your member of Congress who can push SSA to speed up the processing. However, there are pros and cons:

  • Josephs327Jooooo

    Thanks for the info, what can I tell the lawyer to move on it? I did speck to the judges assistant on December 3, 2013 and she said I should have answer no later then Jan 15, 2014…. That days has pasted and I still have no answer

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Just talk to your lawyer about it. On the rare occasion my clients do this, they will go go down to the Congressperson’s local office until they can be seen. Being there in person make a bigger impression than a phone call. But, talk to your lawyer first to see if it is a good idea in your case.

  • Datrebor

    I started disability about 3 years ago. Turned down 3 times. Saw a judge beginning of Dec last year called in March to find out and heard the judge decided end of Feb. Said it could be 60 days to hear. Found there is no light duty jobs in my area so its sedentary. He asked if I ride my motorcycle and I don’t. Do you think having a motorcycle will hurt my chance? Or that I work about 17 hrs/week hurt my case? I don’t like it but have to pay bills some how.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    It depends on the nature of your disability and what your medical records say. For example, a person claiming any kind of spinal problems (DDD, DJD, disc bulge, herniation, s/p fusion, laminectomy, etc.) riding a motorcycle might suggest an ability to do work. This is not because riding a motorcycle is a work-like activity, but because it is often an optional form of transportation and one that is more physically demanding than other choices. I can’t tell you how your case will turn out. Cases are never just one thing. They are everything that is in your file and how it all fits together. Good luck!

  • Ken

    I called the “ODAR” to get a status on my decision as my hearing was 90 plus days ago, the person from Social Security told me to contact my lawyer I did they have not heard anything do they do that often

  • TomaszStasiuk

    If you are asking how often lawyers (or their staff) call ODAR to check on the status of a decision, the answer is next to never.

    If you are asking how often ODAR tells claimants to call their lawyers instead of ODAR to get status updates, that is fairly frequent.

    The thing is, just as ODAR is not telling claimants anything, they are not telling claimant’s lawyers anything either. ODAR might say the decision is “pending review,” “in writing,” “awaiting the judge’s signature,” or similar. However, this does not tell either the claimant, or their lawyer, how much longer it will be. Effectively, all this tells a claimant is that they have not missed the decision and they will get it when they get it.

    In the meantime, the claimant and the lawyer wait. Neither has any real information about how much longer it will be.

  • whitetiger101101

    I received a favorable decision from the judge in Dec 27 2013 its now April 3 2014 the letter says I was approved too receive back pay June 2 2006 until now but I still haven’t received any thing or any other notices I called and was told its still at payment center I was told minimum days is 60 and the long term the anybody’s guess

  • Datrebor

    Can you tell me why should it matter if I use a cane to help me walk that was only recommended by a doctor and one that was prescribed to me by a doctor? Why should that get me denied disability? Also if its legal that I can do some easy work under 20 hours per week that it would count against me. I don’t know of any other way to pay bill if I can’t collect disability. As to the motorcycle I have a Jeep wrangler that is a lot harder on my back then the Shadow Spirit motorcycle is.

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Use of a cane can be useful in a disability case as it may show a limitation in the ability to stand and walk as well as limiting carrying to only one hand (while standing or walking) due to using the cane with the other hand. I have never seen the use of a cane used as a basis of denying a claim. It is just another factor in the assessment of abilities and limitations.

  • Mike D

    I have Degenerative Spondylolisthesis,
    spinal stenosis,
    osteochondritis in both knees and right shoulder,
    grade 1 and 2 disc degeneration disease and SEVERE depression.. And layman terms I have something like 11 fragmented vertebrae 4 ruptured disc 3 herniated disc two very bad knees, I have had two surgeries on my knee.. All of this and I am only 41, majority of what I have is juvenile.. I HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY HEARING MAY 7, 2014 DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHAT THE ODDS ARE THAT I WILL GET SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY??? GRRR Sorry for the caps locks, I did not know it was on…

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Mike, everything you say could certainly qualify an individual for Social Security disability. However, it is not about what a person says they have. Cases are won and lost based on what the records show a person has and how it impacts their ability to work.

    In your case, you do not have a lot of time until your hearing. If you do not have a lawyer helping you, I suggest you get one. A lawyer can help go over your file to determine if there is good documentation of your conditions and the resulting workplace limitations. And if not, a lawyer can help you figure out what can be done to shore up your case.

    Good luck, Mike!

  • Mike D

    I have a lawyer plus I sent an email to Congressman Schock of Illinois and they emailed me back saying they will do what they can with trying to help me get disability but I have to send one of those privacy act forms and first which I plan on doing tomorrow… I will be honest with you I do believe if I do not get disability that would probably be the death of me, I have two kids and a wife as of right now we are barely and I mean barely making it so the disability will help I already feel like a burden to my family.. As bad as it sounds I would rather be homeless rather than drag down my family financially… Thank you for your input by the way mr.. Tom


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