As taxing as hearings with an administrative law judge (ALJ) can be, sometimes the wait for a verdict to render is just as – if not more – trying.Unfortunately, there’s no set timetable for ALJs when it comes to reaching a decision. Each judge adheres to his or her own schedule that neither attorneys nor clients can control or influence in any way. On average, a client will receive notice of an ALJ’s ruling 30-90 days after a hearing has completed, but some ALJs have taken longer to send out their decisions. Clients are notified of the ALJ’s decision before the attorneys are, so the time leading up to the ruling becomes one big waiting game.There are three kinds of decisions that an ALJ can return: fully favorable, partially favorable and unfavorable. ALJs can also dismiss a claim outright, which can be for many reasons, the most common being a client failed to show for a hearing and was unable to show good cause for not showing.
Fully favorable decisions are the ones we like. This means a claim has been awarded for the amount or which it was asked, and in a typical SSDI or SSI case it means a claimant won his or her benefits from the date that was argued during the hearing.
Partially favorable decisions usually indicate an ALJ found a claimant disabled, but not from the alleged disability date argued during the hearing.
Unfavorable decisions are unfortunate, but generally indicate the ALJ failed to find a claimant disabled at all. All decisions can be appealed to the Appeals Council, which reviews cases where there’s an abuse of discretion by the ALJ, an error in law, actions, findings or conclusions of the ALJ that are not supported by substantial evidence, or a broad based policy procedural issue that may affect the general public interest.
Unfortunately, calling the ALJ office or your Balin attorney to expedite the decision timetable won’t help. The decision will be made when the ALJ is ready to make it. Depending on the strength of a case, an ALJ will sometimes issue a bench decision at the hearing, meaning the client will leave the hearing room knowing they’ve secured a victory. An official decision will arrive by mail after the fact.