Many of my clients express surprise when I explain that a decision is not normally issued at the conclusion of the hearing. Historically, the written decision was issued approximately 8 weeks after the hearing, although there were instances for my clients when decisions were issued in a week as well as up to 9 months post-hearing. Recently, however, my clients across the country have experienced waits ballooning to an average of approximately four months for a written decision. There are multiple reasons it takes so long for judges to issue a decision.

First, the document is long (typically around 15 pages) and must include an in-depth analysis of your claim. The decision is written in tandem by both the judge and a decision writer, and - for the many new judges recently hired - may also be reviewed by a supervising judge before issuance. Second, the SSA has changed their scheduling practices to reduce the wait for hearings. Unfortunately, this has caused more hearings for the individual judges, without reducing the amount of time required to write decisions. As such, instead of waiting 18 months for a hearing and two months for a decision, you may now be waiting 16 months for a hearing and four months for a decision.

Nevertheless, many judges give counsel 'clues' as to what their final determination will be during the hearing, and your attorney will often be able to give you an idea of what to expect following your hearing. Unfortunately, payment and medicare eligibility cannot begin until after the written decision is issued (often taking one to two additional months after the decision is issued).

For those awaiting a hearing, please be patient and best of luck!