How to Win a Social Security Disability Hearing?

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If you have been injured and are unable to work, you are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Though it can be difficult to get approved for SSD, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success with your application and at your hearing.

Statistics indicate that only 30 percent of SSD claims are approved in the United States. Having a knowledgeable attorney or advocate on your side can greatly improve your odds of success. Additionally, providing thorough records of your injury or illness, medical treatment and financial status (for need-based funding like Supplemental Security Income) will put you in a far better position for approval.

What Happens After a Social Security Disability Hearing?

After your disability hearing, the judge who heard your case will make a decision. Staff writers will then write up the decision, which will require final approval by the judge. Your file will then be sent to the Social Security office.

The Social Security Administration will then verify that you have not been employed at a level considered Substantial Gainful Activity since your date of loss, which, as of 2018, is considered any work for which you earn $1,180 or more per month. If you have had SGA, your claim might be denied.

If your claim is denied, you will receive a notice and instructions for appealing the decision. Typically, you have 60 days from the date of your denial to file your appeal. Be sure to follow the provided instructions carefully.

If your claim is approved, you will receive a Notice of Award letter. Your award may be considered either fully favorable or partially favorable. If it is fully favorable, you are approved and the judge agrees with your alleged onset date. Your back pay will be in the amount you filed for. If your approval is partially favorable, you are still approved. However, the judge does not agree with your alleged onset date, and your back pay will be reduced.

Once you have been approved for benefits, an established onset date will be assigned. This will be based on medical records and work history. From there, you will need to wait five months, the standard period for SSD claims. This waiting period will essentially push the date of entitlement five months forward from the established onset date.

Read More: How Often Does Social Security Disability Review Cases?

How Much Back Pay Does Social Security Disability Pay?

If approved with a fully favorable decision, a claimant is eligible for back pay at least to the date of his SSD application. In some instances, the claimant may be eligible for benefits retroactive to the year prior to his application.

All SSD back pay will come as a lump sum. The amount of your payment will vary depending on the award you were given and how long you have waited since your established onset date. Most monthly awards in 2018 vary between $700 and $1,700, with an average of about $1,171. Therefore, your back pay could be as much as $20,400, the maximum amount calculated for the maximum retroactive period of time.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Decision After a Social Security Disability Hearing?

You may receive a decision as soon as 45 days after your SSD hearing. However, the average wait time is far longer, at over 600 days. The best way to combat these long waiting periods is to ensure your documentation is thorough and in order. Additionally, having the help of an experienced lawyer or advocate can increase your chances of an approval.

Going through the SSD application process is necessary if you have become ill or injured and are unable to work. With the right tools and an understanding of the system, you will be better situated to get an approval and start earning benefits more quickly.


  • Having a knowledgeable attorney or advocate and a thorough understanding of the Social Security Disability process can help you to win the benefits you deserve.