Average Wait Times:
Unfortunately, applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long and frustrating process. The average person can wait up to two years before actually having a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The average wait times for the stages leading up to an administrative hearing are as follows:
Initial Application: 3-5 Months
Reconsideration: 4-6 Months
Request for Hearing: 12-18 Months
How to Expedite a Claim:
There are, however, methods which can decrease the amount of time a claimant waits to get a decision. The most effective method for receiving a favorable outcome in a shorter period of time is to request a decision based on the record (OTR).
1. How It Works
An “on the record” review can be conducted at the request of a claimant or claimant’s representation or at the discretion of an ALJ’s office. If the ALJ or a staff attorney at the Social Security office determines that the records contained in the file support a finding of disability, a favorable decision will be granted to the claimant.
2. What is required for the OTR?
The most important aspect of an OTR is having supportive medical documentation. Social Security Regulations mandate that an ALJ must base his or her decision on the medical records in the file. Thus, an OTR will only be granted if the file contains sufficient information supporting a finding of disability. The most common forms of supportive medical records are:
- Objective Tests: (MRI, X-Rays, CT-Scan, Blood Tests etc.)
- Medical Source Opinions: (Statements from treating doctors supporting disability)
- Physician Notes
3. When is it Filed?
An OTR is filed during the “Request for Hearing” stage of the Social Security disability process.
An OTR is beneficial in many ways, the most important being a substantial reduction in the waiting time a claimant has for Social Security benefits. Another advantage in filing an OTR is that it does not impact a claimant’s position in line for a hearing. In other words, if an OTR is denied, the claimant will still be scheduled for a hearing before an ALJ.