Man in wheel chair discussing social security benefits over the phone

What is an On-the-record Decision and How Do I Request One?

You might have to wait a very long time to get a hearing if you filed an appeal of an adverse decision on your application for Social Security Disability benefits. Although you can usually get retroactive benefits back to the time of filing if you eventually get an award of benefits, you might need the money sooner than that. 

An On-the-Record (OTR) decision is one way to try to get a quicker decision on your appeal. You do not have to wait until the judge is available to conduct a hearing on your case when you request an OTR decision. A Texas disability attorney can evaluate whether you qualify for an OTR decision and help you request one.

How is an OTR Decision Different From a Standard Hearing of an Appeal?

When you have a hearing on an appeal from a decision you disagreed with about your request for Social Security disability benefits, you or your attorney appear before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and argue why the earlier ruling was wrong. You can file an appeal because you feel your request was wrongfully denied or you think the Social Security Administration (SSA) should have awarded you more money. These hearings can happen in-person or remotely via Zoom or a similar video conferencing tool.

Sometimes, the ALJ determines that there is no need for a hearing because there is enough information in your file to make a decision. “On-the-Record” refers to the contents of your file, as opposed to any additional information that might come out during a hearing. In this situation, the ALJ does not wait for a request from you for an OTR decision. The ALJ can reach an OTR decision on its own determination that a hearing is not needed.

How Can You Ask for an On-the-Record Decision?

If the ALJ has not elected to issue an OTR decision on your appeal, you can request one. You will need to exercise your right to an OTR decision in writing with a formal request. You will want to be certain that your file contains all of the medical evidence you need to support your request for disability benefits. You can submit a comprehensive written legal brief that makes the arguments you would make at a hearing.

In addition to having an abundance of medical evidence submitted with your application and appeal, your brief should clearly state the reasons why you qualify for the benefits you have requested. With so much at stake, you might want to have a lawyer handle the appeal and write the brief. If you forget to mention one of the required elements for an award of benefits, the ALJ will deny your appeal.

You could take the next step in the appeals process if you do not receive a favorable outcome from the ALJ’s On-the-record decision, but every stage of appeal can take several months or much longer. A Texas disability attorney can advocate for you and handle your appeal of the denial of benefits or request a higher award amount. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.