Hearing Decisions: Fully Favorable, Partially Favorable, Unfavorable – What Does It Mean?

Following your hearing, you will receive a Notice of Decision in the mail from the judge. 

You open it up and right under your name and address you hopefully see: “NOTICE OF DECISION—FULLY FAVORABLE.”

You may also see: “NOTICE OF DECISION—PARTIALLY FAVORABLE,” or “NOTICE OF DECISION—UNFAVORABLE,” “NOTICE OF DECISION—DISMISSED.”

What does this actually mean? Are you going to get your social security disability benefits or not?

The letter is long and confusing. You want a short answer. Your decision will be one of the following:

SSDI Hearing Decisions: Fully Favorable, Partially Favorable, Unfavorable

Fully Favorable

This is the decision you want.. This is a great decision that finds you disabled as of the onset date you said you became disabled or any date we amend your onset to based on the evidence. You should receive a letter from the payment processing center a few weeks after your decision, and the letter will tell you how much your back benefits are as well as your monthly benefit. You will begin to receive your benefits and probably want to know "How Long Does It Take To Get SSDI Benefits After I Am Approved?"

Partially Favorable

This is generally a good decision that finds you disabled for a specific period of time but it contains some limitations. Usually, a partially favorable decision means that the ALJ agreed that you were disabled, but changed the onset date to a later time. This is good and bad. You should get benefits, but your back benefits will be less because the onset date was changed. Also, you will need to see if the onset date was changed to a date after your date last insured because if so, you may only be entitled to SSI benefits and not SSDI. Another typical example is the judge finding you disabled for a closed period – that is you were disabled for a specific amount of time but are no longer disabled. 

You may appeal a partially favorable decision to the Appeals Council.  Any decision to appeal should be made in conjunction with us.  We will review your case and the decision in detail to determine if further appeal is appropriate.  You have 60-days from the decision date to file an appeal to the Appeals Council.

Unfavorable

This decision finds that you are not disabled and never were disabled according to Social Security laws, regulations, and rules.  Typically, the judge finds that the medical evidence does not support disability, that you were not credible, or that while you have some medical impairments they do not limit you so significantly to completely disable you under SSA’s laws, regulations and rules. You will not be receiving disability benefits.

You may appeal an unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council. Many cases that were initially ruled as unfavorable by an ALJ have been overturned either by the Appeals Council, a Federal Court, or by another ALJ. Whether or not you will be successful on an appeal of an unfavorable decision depends on the facts of your case, the ALJ’s rationale for the decision, the regulations, and the law. Any decision to appeal should be made in conjunction with us.  We will review your case and the decision in detail to determine if further appeal is appropriate.  You have 60-days from the decision date to file an appeal to the Appeals Council.

Dismissed

A dismissal may sometimes be issued by an ALJ as well. In this decision, your case is dismissed without a decision. This can happen when you don’t go to the hearing, when you filed your appeal too late without good reason, or when your case has already been decided and you have no new evidence. A dismissal can be appealed to the Appeals Council or Federal Court.

What Next?

If you have been denied disability benefits and want to appeal or have an upcoming Social Security Disability hearing and need help now, give us a call immediately at 985-240-9773 to see how we can help you prepare for your hearing, understand the judge’s questioning, and help you win your case!

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability and Personal Injury Attorney
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