There are two questions I get after almost every Social Security Disability hearing:

  • How long will it take to receive a decision from the administrative law judge (ALJ)?
  • How will I know if my application for disability benefits was approved?

Social Security will notify you of its decision by mail. The decision must be in writing. If your claim has been approved, you will receive a Social Security Disability award letter. Otherwise you will receive a denial letter.

The Social Security Disability award letter will include the following information:

  • Your established onset date of disability. This is the date that the Social Security Administration believes your symptoms and limitations became so severe that you were unable to perform past work or any other work in the national economy given your age, education, and acquired job skills.
  • Your monthly disability benefit amount, which is based on your past earnings. Make sure you ask your local field office what your primary insurance amount (PIA) is.
  • The amount of past due benefits you will receive, excluding your attorney’s fee.
  • When you will receive your first monthly disability payment.

Another question we get is, “How long does it take to receive an award letter from Social Security once my application is approved?

It depends. If your initial application is approved, you will receive an award letter within a few months of filing your application. If your application is not approved until you have a hearing before an administrative law judge, then it will take much longer to get an award letter. You will not receive your Notice of Award until you have received the Notice of Decision from the judge. The award notice usually comes a few weeks after receiving the decision.

When a case is awarded at the hearing level, the hearing office will send the decision to the regional payment center to be processed. These payment centers handle a large volume of cases and are often understaffed. This means it will take even longer to receive an award letter.

If you have a question abut the award letter or how long the process takes, contact Richmond Social Security Disability lawyer and Newport News Social Security Disability attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We are here to help you and your family.