After the Social Security Administration (SSA) hearing judge has made a decision about your disability benefits application, you will receive a Notice of Decision letter in the mail. There are two ways that the hearing judge may approve your application: either as a fully favorable or a partially favorable decision.
A fully favorable decision means that the judge approved your application with the onset date of disability that you asked for and that you will start receiving disability benefits as soon as your elimination period or waiting period has ended. If you received a fully favorable decision, congratulations, you do not need to take any further action.
What is the difference between a fully favorable and a partially favorable decision?
The difference between a fully favorable and a partially favorable decision has to do with the start date of your disability, otherwise known as your “disability onset date.”
When you complete your disability benefits application, the SSA requires that you list the date that your disability began. The date you write down is the “alleged onset date.” If the hearing judge agrees that the alleged date is the date that your disability actually began, the judge will issue a fully favorable decision.
On the other hand, if the judge believes that you are disabled but disagrees with you about when your disability actually started, the judge will issue a partially favorable decision. So, for example, if you claimed that your illness became disabling on January 1, but the judge believes that your illness did not become severe enough to become disabling until May 1, the judge will issue a partially favorable decision. You will receive benefits after the waiting period has passed from the May 1 onset date, which would mean that the first month you would get “back benefits” would be October.
A judge may also issue you a partially favorable decision if s/he believes that you were disabled but that you have recovered and are no longer disabled. This is known as an approval for a “closed period of benefits.” When this happens, the SSA will pay you a one-time payment instead of ongoing monthly payments.
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Should I appeal a partially favorable decision?
If you receive a partially favorable decision, this means you will receive less money than you originally asked for.
If the difference in amounts is small, there may be no reason to appeal the decision. But many partially favorable decisions deprive the applicants of several thousands of dollars. If you fall into this category, you might want to consider whether or not you should appeal. When considering whether to appeal, it is important to note that you cannot limit your appeal to just the part you disagree with. An appeal will allow your whole case to be reexamined and there is a risk that you will be found not disabled for any period of time.
If you can prove that your disability started on the date that you claimed or that it still continues you would receive the additional benefits that you are seeking. A disability lawyer from Berger and Green can help you decide whether to file an appeal of the decision.
For help completing your Social Security disability application, filing an appeal, or collecting evidence for your claim, call the disability lawyers at Berger and Green today at 412-661-1400.