Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income cases often end up being heard by an Administrative Law Judge. An Administrative Law Judge will hear your testimony, review the documents in your record, often consult a vocational expert, and occasionally get the opinion of a medical expert. Based on his or her review of your complete record, the Administrative Law Judge will make a written decision on your Social Security disability case. The majority of these decisions are either Favorable or Unfavorable. Some, however, are “Partially Favorable.” In layman’s terms, this just means that the decision isn’t giving you everything you asked for in your application. Many decisions are partially favorable because the Administrative Law Judge found you to be disabled after your alleged onset date. Others may find that you were disabled for only a specific period of time (a closed period). Partially favorable decisions can have a huge impact on your benefits. For example, a partially favorable decision may find that you became disabled after your date last insured. This means that based on the decision, you will not be able to receive any Disability Insurance Benefits.
You can appeal a partially favorable decision to the Appeals Council, but you should know that the Appeals Council will look at your whole decision, not just the parts that unfavorable to you. That means that the Appeals Council could decide that you are not entitled to any Social Security benefits at all. We look at each partially favorable decision closely to determine whether we believe they should be appealed.
If you have received a partially favorable decision, an experienced Social Security disability attorney can help you determine whether it is in your best interest to appeal the decision.
For more information about the Appeals Council and how it operates, please see my blog entry about Unfavorable Decisions.