What’s an On the Record Review for Disability Claims?

The Social Security disability application process (and potentially appealing your denial) can drag out for months or even years. Meanwhile, you have a serious health condition that leaves you unable to work, so you have little or no income. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your initial disability application, you then have 60 days to appeal. This could mean attending a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) 12-18 months from now. If you’re wondering if it’s possible to expedite this process, the answer is yes. Keep in mind, however, that moving up a hearing date doesn’t always work. Still, it’s worth trying to do. One way to speed your appeals hearing up involves requesting an on the record review. We’ll explain what that means and how it can speed up your access to benefits below.

What Is An On The Record Review?

Anyone initially denied benefits and waiting for their appeals hearing can request an on the record review. An OTR review involves an ALJ reviewing your case file (i.e., “record”) before your actual hearing. If the ALJ find your record persuasive, he or she may grant you benefits faster.

In order for the judge to rule in your favor, you must provide enough information to prove you have a disability so that the judge doesn’t require any further data in order to make a decision.

People who believe the have provided the SSA with plenty of medical evidence and want to try an OTR review can request one through their local Office of Disability and Adjudication Review shortly after filing a request for an appeal hearing. In your OTR request, explain why the SSA should consider you disabled and explain any notes relating to your medical records. The other way to have an OTR review is in a hearing officer initiates the process for you. This might happen if you provide additional supporting medical proof and the officer feels that a hearing isn’t necessary.

What Happens When You Request An On The Record Review?

There are several things that might happen after you ask for an on the record review. These include:

  • A favorable outcome: If the judge feels you provided enough information, you may win SSD benefits.
  • A denial: If the SSA feel it can’t make a decision based on the written information you provided without a hearing, your on the record review may be unsuccessful. It’s important to note that you won’t be penalized if your on the record review fails.
  • An attorney might contact you: An attorney adjudicator may be reviewing your file. That adjudicator may call with additional questions, such as if you’re currently working or to find your disability onset date. When answering these questions, be as descriptive and detailed as possible, and always tell the truth.

Why Should You Consider Requesting An On The Record Review?

If you’re hoping to speed up the process, an OTR review is one way to achieve this goal. This lessens your wait time to receive a determination decision. Additionally, having an OTR review may negate the need for an actual hearing, which could put added mental or physical stress on you.

If you’re appealing your denial and want to request an on the record review, a disability advocate or attorney may make this process easier. A Social Security attorney or advocate knows everything you need to do in order to win disability benefits. What’s more, having an attorney file your paperwork nearly triples your odds of benefit approval right away. These attorneys always work on contingency. That means if the SSA doesn’t award you benefits, then you pay $0 for legal assistance. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.