Do you think that you could provide me with an estimated waiting period for a decision from an ALJ, after a Social Security disability hearing? I live in the state of Illinois, and my hearing was held about two weeks prior. The hearing was held in Evanston, Illinois. I am a 58-year-old man and I also have a service-connected disability from the United States Marine Corps. I was represented by an attorney. The judge found me to be credible and Social Security's vocational work expert at the hearing said that I was unable to work in any capacity. Thank you for your consideration regarding this matter.
It sounds like you'll be getting good news, but the amount of time to get an actual decision following a hearing varies case by case and hearing office by hearing office. It can take anywhere from two weeks to three months or more. If your lawyer is familiar with the judge, he or she may have an idea of how long that judge is known to take to issue a decision. The average is eight weeks.
You can also call your hearing office to ask about the status of your particular case. The number for the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) in Evanston is 866-336-6051.
However, remember that you're not approved until you get an award letter. After the hearing, Social Security will check to see if and how much you've been working since you applied. And getting service-connected disability from the VA is no guarantee of getting Social Security disability benefits (although a judge must give some weight to the VA's finding of disability).
I went to my appeal hearing in Buffalo and the judge told me that I would have his decision in 30 days. It's been longer than that now and I'm wondering what to do? Does this mean it's bad news? I have been calling the SSA's hotline, but they can't tell me anything. I waited two years for my hearing and now over a month for a final decision. Please help if you can. I'm just looking for answers. Thank you.
New York's hearing offices are experiencing long wait times for hearings, and the Buffalo office in particular has a long backlog of disability cases. Long wait times for hearings also generally mean longer than usual wait times for the final decision letter.
That said, it does often take longer to get a denial decision from a judge than an approval. In a survey we took of our readers who had gone to a Social Security disability appeal hearing, it took on average about seven weeks to get an approval letter after the hearing, and almost ten weeks to get a denial letter. But the fact that it's been over 30 days doesn't mean anything—most people who get approvals have to wait over 30 days for the decision.
Your local hearing office, the Buffalo Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) may be able to give you an updated status on your case. Their number is 866-348-5819.