What Does a Fully Favorable Decision Mean in a Disability Benefits Claim?

Submitted by Elizabeth on

For people suffering from a disability which prevents them from participating in gainful employment, any sort of waiting period to hear about a decision from the SSA regarding a disability benefits application can be stressful and frustrating from a financial standpoint. Once the application has been reviewed, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may make a ‘fully favorable decision’ on your benefits application. A ‘fully favorable decision’ is the most reassuring and encouraging outcome possible. And although you still have to wait until the five-month waiting period has expired before receiving payments with a ‘fully favorable decision,’ you have more certainty that benefits have been approved as you requested.  

What is a Fully Favorable Decision? 

A ‘fully favorable decision’ made by the SSA means that they have agreed that you became disabled on the date you specified on your application. This means that you don’t have to do anything else besides just having to wait for the mandatory ‘waiting period’ to elapse. The waiting period established by the SSA is five months from the date that they have confirmed was the date your disability started. You should receive back pay to cover you financially for the five months as well as regular monthly payments some time after the waiting period has elapsed.  

The only exception to the five-month waiting period is if you have been offered a compassionate allowance. This may be offered if your disability is terminal or very severe as assessed by the SSA. A compassionate allowance reduces the time to make a decision about your application and also eliminates the statutory waiting period if approved. 

Is My Fully Favorable Decision Permanent? 

Although your disability status and date of onset has been agreed by giving you a fully favorable decision, this could change at some time in the future. The SSA will want to confirm that your disability is still preventing you from working, that you have been receiving ongoing treatment, if that is possible and that your income stream has not changed sufficiently to make you ineligible for future benefits payments. 

The SSA will make a review of your disability status normally every three years. This is called a ‘continuing disability review’ (CDR) and will be undertook whether you are receiving SSDI or SSI benefits payments. The CDR will look at the status and level of severity of your disability, your income, your living arrangements, and any other available resources you may have acquired. 

To evaluate your disability status for a CDR, you will be contacted by the SSA and you will then need to provide the information they request. You may be able to do this online. 

The SSA reserves the right to cancel all disability benefits payments or reduce the amount that is paid to you. If this does happen, you may need to consider hiring a disability lawyer before appealing the decision. 

What Does a Partially Favorable Decision Mean? 

If you don’t receive a fully favorable decision, you may instead receive an unfavorable decision or a partially favorable decision. An unfavorable decision means that the SSA has rejected your disability application and you will not receive benefits unless you appeal their decision.  

A partially favorable decision means that the SSA agrees that you have or have had a disabling condition, but do not agree with the date of onset that you provided. In this case, you would still receive benefits after the statutory five-month waiting period, but only after the date is determined by the SSA, which could reduce the amount of back pay you receive.  

The SSA may also say that you were disabled for a period in the past but are now no longer disabled as assessed by them. You may then be eligible for a one-off payment to cover the period they state you were disabled but will not receive any regular future payments.  

You are entitled to appeal any of these decisions but are advised to hire a disability attorney to help you through what can be a challenging process. Complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page to get connected and speak with a disability attorney who can help you today—at zero cost to you

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