As social security benefits lawyers, we often present our client’s case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After we tell the judge why we believe our client is disabled, there are three possible outcomes. The ALJ may disagree completely and issue an Unfavorable Decision. In this case, we have a few options that are explored in more detail here. Another outcome is a Fully Favorable Decision. In this case, the ALJ agrees that the client is disabled, and an award of benefits will follow. A disability attorney loves to hear this decision. Sometimes the decision is “Partially Favorable.”
What Does a Partially Favorable Decision Mean?
First, it can mean that the ALJ found you disabled, but he believes you were disabled as of a later date than what you had originally indicated. For example, say you allege you have been disabled since March 1, 2018, but the ALJ finds that you became disabled on February 1, 2019. The ALJ may issue a Partially Favorable decision that approves your benefit award but finds you were disabled later than you claimed.
Another possibility with a Partially Favorable decision is what’s called a closed period. This means that the ALJ found you disabled for a specific period of time, but no longer believes you are disabled. For example, the ALJ might believe you were disabled from March 1, 2018, but find that you had medical improvement on December 15, 2019. If so, a Partially Favorable decision may award benefits only from March 1, 2018, through December 15, 2019.
What to Do if You Receive a Partially Favorable Decision
You can appeal to the Appeals Council.
If your disability onset date was changed, you may argue that the ALJ did not apply the correct legal standards to your claim.
If you have been approved for a closed period, you could argue that the ALJ’s decision was not based on or supported by substantial evidence. You could also file a subsequent application with Social Security, and present new evidence to support that you are still disabled.
Is There Any Risk to Appealing?
If we appeal a Partially Favorable decision, we appeal the entire decision. With that comes the risk that the Appeals Council may find that you are not disabled at all. If so, they could deny the claim altogether. We would lose whatever benefits we had been awarded via the Partially Favorable decision.
Another thing to consider is that you will not receive benefits while your appeal is pending before the Appeals Council. Sometimes the sacrifice of some backpay is worth the ultimate outcome of getting the monthly benefit and assistance they so desperately need.
You may have questions about the process or what your decision means. Contact your representative, who can better explain the specifics of your situation and help you make the best decision for your case.
Talk to a Social Security Benefits Lawyer
It’s no secret that disability law is complicated. As you pass through the application process, it helps to have disability lawyers by your side.
If you have any questions about a Social Security claim, contact a disability attorney at any of our offices across Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Call (618) 266-4038 or submit the Contact Form on our website for a free consultation.