According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a fully favorable SSDI decision means that the SSA finds you disabled and agrees with your alleged onset date (AOD). As a result, you will receive your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and backpay starting when your disabling injury occurred.
If you received a fully favorable decision after submitting your initial application, you should start receiving benefits in the following month and do not need to take further action. However, if your notice states the SSA’s decision is partially favorable or unfavorable, you can appeal.
What Is the Difference Between a Fully and Partially Favorable Decision?
According to the SSA, to receive SSDI benefits, you must have a disabling condition that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least one year. The SGA threshold for 2023 is $1,470 per month. The administration considers an injury or illness disabling if it meets the criteria outlined in the Social Security Administration Blue Book.
If you receive notice of a fully favorable SSDI decision, the SSA agrees you have a qualifying condition and that your injury or illness began on the date stated in your initial application. Conversely, a partially favorable determination means the SSA believes one of two things:
- You had a disability, but you no longer do: The SSA finds that you had a disability at one time but no longer have a condition that prevents you from performing SGA.
- Your disability did not begin on your AOD: You can only apply for SSDI benefits once your condition has kept you from engaging in SGA for five months. After the mandatory waiting period, you can seek back pay starting from your AOD. You can receive up to 12 months of retroactive wages. But, if the SSA disputes your AOD, it will not grant you the total amount of requested back pay, and your decision is not fully favorable.
How Does a Fully or Partially Favorable SSDI Decision Affect Your Payments?
The SSA calculates your SSDI benefits based on your earned work credits, which you amass through taxes on your wages. Therefore, the more credits you have, the more you have paid into the system, and the higher your payments will be. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that the average SSDI payment for 2023 is around $1,483 per month.
If your SSA notice contains a fully favorable SSDI decision, you will get your monthly benefits and maximum available retroactive wages. Unfortunately, a partially favorable decision will result in either a denial of your back pay or a “closed period of benefits” payment. The SSA issues this one-time lump sum if it believes you had a qualifying disability but no longer do.
Of course, if you receive an unfavorable determination, the SSA does not believe you had or have a qualifying condition, and you will not receive any benefits.
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Should You Appeal Your SSDI Decision?
If you disagree with an unfavorable decision and are not earning above the SGA limit, you should appeal the SSA’s determination. You can also choose to appeal partially favorable decisions to try to collect more back pay or receive monthly payments if only offered a one-time sum.
Understand that an appeal results in a review of your entire claim. Therefore, if the SSA decides during the appeal that you are “not disabled,” you could end up with nothing. Still, an appeal may be worth the risk if a fully favorable determination will result in significantly more benefits or if you have new or additional evidence regarding your condition.
Do You Need a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
You do not have to hire a lawyer to handle your SSDI appeal. However, a Social Security Disability (SSD) attorney with our firm can use their legal knowledge and case experience to help you bolster your claim. We can also help you navigate the appeal process, which may include a review of your initial application but can progress to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) or even a federal court review. We can:
- Review your initial application
- Help you understand why the SSA did not issue a fully favorable decision
- Collect evidence to submit with your appeal, such as medical records, expert medical opinions, pay stubs, tax records, and employment records
- Track and manage case deadlines
- Update you on the progress of your appeal
- Represent you during ALJ hearings
- Take your case to federal court if necessary
Contact Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, for Help With Your SSDI Claim
An SSD attorney with Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can help you apply for SSDI or represent you during appeals if you do not receive a fully favorable decision. We also help clients with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, workers’ compensation, personal injuries, and more. Contact us today to learn more about our services.