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What is an On-the-Record Decision and How do I Request One?

What is an On-the-Record (OTR) Decision and How Do I Request One?

On-the-record (OTR) reviews are available to all Social Security Disability applicants who are appealing a denial of their Social Security Disability benefits based on their written disability application. If you have enough medical evidence to prove that you are disabled you may want to consider requesting an OTR review and decision.

An OTR decision is a favorable ruling that is made by an administrative law judge (ALJ) prior to an actual disability hearing. The decision is made by the administrative law judge based only on the written medical information. Skipping the wait for an appeal hearing may speed up the process. You must, however, have substantial medical evidence proving the extent of your disability for this approach to be successful.

How Do I Request an OTR Decision?

Once your Social Security Disability application has been denied, you have the right to request a disability hearing. You must file this request for a hearing within 60 days from the date you receive the notice of the denial of your benefits. Once your request for a hearing has been filed, you can request an OTR review in one of two ways.

In a best-case scenario, a hearing officer may begin an OTR review for you. For example, if you provide the SSA with new supporting medical evidence that needs to be reviewed, the hearing officer may feel that a hearing is no longer necessary and may submit the information to the judge so that an OTR decision can be made.

If a hearing officer does not initiate an OTR review for you, you can request the review to ensure that it is performed. You can do this by making the request to your local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). You should make your request to the ODAR office shortly after you file your request for your hearing. Your request should include a thorough explanation that points out the specific medical evidence proving your disability.

What Happens After You Request Your OTR Review?

One of three things can happen after you request an OTR decision.

  • An adjudicator may contact you if he or she is reviewing the file and has any questions pertaining to your case. He or she may question whether or not you are currently performing any type of work activity and when your disability began. It is important to answer these questions thoroughly and honestly if you wish to avoid a disability hearing.
  • The second thing that may happen is that the OTR decision is granted based on your written medical records. This decision will grant you the disability benefits you are seeking and a hearing will not be necessary.
  • The third thing that may happen is that the OTR review does not result in the approval of your disability benefits. If this happens, the case will continue on to a disability hearing. You will not be denied benefits based on an OTR denial. You will simply have to follow the typical disability hearing process.

A request for an OTR can be a great way to expedite the disability appeal process. You need to make sure that you provide enough medical documentation to prove your disability to the SSA—showing the administrative law judge that you are indeed disabled and that you should be approved benefits without the need for a disability hearing.