On-the-Record Favorable Decisions Processed at Hearing Offices Within 100 Days of Receipt

Date: 
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Report Number: 
A-12-14-14082
Report Type: 
Audit Report
Office Affiliation: 

The objective of our report is to assess the characteristics of fully favorable on-the-record (OTR) decisions issued by administrative law judges (ALJ) and senior attorney adjudicators (SAA) within 100 days of receipt at the hearing level.

When an individual applies for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), a State disability determination services (DDS) reviews the individual’s medical and other related evidence. When the DDS denies a claim, the individual can request a review of the case by an adjudicator at the Agency’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

While most ODAR cases are decided after a hearing with the claimant, an adjudicator can make an OTR decision when the merits of the case support a decision without a hearing with the claimant. In 2007, the Agency allowed SAAs to make favorable OTR decisions on cases, primarily as part of an early screening process of incoming cases at hearing offices.

OTR decisions have become a smaller part of ODAR’s dispositions, peaking at about 16 percent of total dispositions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 and dropping to approximately 4 percent in FY 2014.