Social Security partly favorable decision EXPLAINED!

Getting a Partly Favorable or Partially Favorable decision in a Social Security disability claim is confusing for a lot of people.

First, lets go over what it does not mean.  Under the Social Security system, there is no partly or partially disabled. Either your impairments keep you from being able to work (and therefore disabled) or not. There is no half disabled. Disability determinations under the Social Security system are all or nothing.  Comment:  This is also one reason it is so hard to get on Social Security.

So, the judge has to either find you disabled or not disabled.  However, even if the judge finds you disabled, the judge may not be able to give you everything you asked for.  In those cases, you get a partly favorable decision.

If you get a partly favorable decision, it usually means one of three things:

  • Social Security disagrees with the date you became disabled.
  • Social Security disagrees that your disability continues.
  • Social Security disagrees with the beginning and/or ending dates of your disability.

Lets take these one at a time:

Social Security disagrees with the date you became disabled.

Lets say you claim your disability began on December 2003. If you kept working (at a substantial gainful activity level – i.e. full time) after December 2003, or if the medical records do not support that you were disabled back to that date, the Judge may only be able to find you disabled as of a later date.

Social Security disagrees that your disability continues.

The judge may agree that you were disabled, but may not think that your disability continues. Using the prior example, the Judge may agree that you were disabled in 2003, but feels that your condition improved to the point that you were able to return to full-time employment in June 2007. In this instance, the judge might grant you a closed period of disability, that is he may find that your disability period began in December 2003 but you were no longer disabled as of June 2007.

Social Security disagrees with the beginning and/or ending dates of your disability.

This is the surf and turf combo of the prior two examples. The Judge may disagree with either the date your disability began or may disagree with the ending date (if you were requesting a closed period of disability).

In any of these cases, the judge will issue a partly favorable decision.

A partly favorable decision is still a win!

But, you need to review the decision to see where the judge disagreed with you about your disability. Is the judge choosing a later disability onset date? Is the judge disagreeing that your disability continues and choosing an ending date for your disability? Or is there some combination of those options occurring.

Photo by Krista Baltroka

  • Frank Petas

    Hello my name is Frank Petas and I had a hearing about a month ago. I was going for a closed period of about 2 1/2 years. I talked to a worker at the hearing office and he told me that the judge had rendered a decision and that it was partially favorable, Im really scared because I need to get paid for the 2 1/2 years and im thinking a partially favorable decision means that he reduced the time frame down (maybe alot) or could it mean that he approved it for the whole 2 1/2 years and is just calling it a partial favorable decision because im not getting monthly benefits. I appreciate any advise you may have.

    Frank Petas

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  • meyer

    i had a hearing in march but have not heard any thing

  • http://socialsecurityinsider.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    Decision, like all mail, occasionally get lost. After 90 days, I often call the appeals office (ODAR – Office of Disability Adjudication & Review) to check the status of the decision.

  • meyer

    i had a hearing in march but have not heard any thing

  • http://www.ColoradoSocialSecurityLaw.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    Decisions, like all mail, occasionally get lost. After 90 days, I often call the appeals office (ODAR – Office of Disability Adjudication & Review) to check the status of the decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.real.slim.shandy Shandy Elliott

    I applied in December 2009
    claiming an onset date of September 2001 (suggested from SSA because it was my
    last date of work/SGA). I was insured through December 2006. I was medically
    diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2003 (which comes with bad episodes of
    Iritis). Blood work and x-rays concluded this diagnosis. I already had bone
    fusion (fixation) at this point in my hips and dorsolumbar spine (which
    satisfies medical listing 14.09C1) not to mention additional fusion throughout
    my cervical spine and bone spurs with beginning fusion in my neck. In December
    2005, I had to have steroids injected into my eye because of a very bad flare
    up of Iritis (which is noted to only show up in “severe” cases of Ankylosing
    Spondylitis) – it seems the term “severe” is what I have to prove my
    condition is and do so by the end of December 2006. I began seeing a RA in 2007
    with an additional set of x-rays in early April 2007 (which at this point
    showed extreme fusion in hips, all lumbar, all the way up my cervical spine,
    and a good portion of my neck). Even considering these x-rays fell 3 months
    after my date last insured, I don’t see where SSA couldn’t make the small leap
    into realizing my condition was just as severe 3 months prior (which would fall
    into the range of my date last insured). If they didn’t feel my x-rays in 2003
    showed enough fusion, the x-rays in April 2007 should surely satisfy the term “severe

    I have 2 RFC reports from
    my treating physicians claiming I can only sit 1-3, stand 1, and walk 1, and
    work 2-3 hours. Both RFC reports say occasionally lift 10 pounds and “never” on
    the other ranges, but I have additional medical opinions submitted by my RA
    that state at maximum I should ONLY lift 10 pounds once and even then only at
    waist height – and this is because there is no other choice between
    “never” and “occasionally” (which can be a big difference
    in frequency). These RFC reports also mention my limitations have been present
    since 2001, and they both checked yes when asked if my limitations would keep
    me from working a consistent schedule and also checked yes when asked if
    medications would hinder my concentration, etc. Then I have a CE RFC report which
    states I can work a light job (which I’m not sure what she’s basing this
    opinion on considering her 5 minute exam/evaluation). There is second CE report
    solely based off the first CE report (from a person not even board certified)
    and an additional “case assessment” submitted solely based off the
    second CE report. I’ve recently read about “stacked hearsay” which
    this clearly falls under and how Congress has condemned such practice. Only 1
    CE examined me yet I have 3 CE reports stating I can work a light job. I feel
    the reason there are 3 CE RFC reports is because I came in with 2 RFC reports
    of my own – coincidence? The first CE even went so far to claim I can lift and
    carry objects without even a test of that activity. I “do” have an “other
    source” statement from my chiropractor explaining my limitations of range of
    motion based on measurement and he corroborates my limitations based on my own 2
    RFC reports. Even if chiropractor testimony may or may not be accepted as
    opinion evidence, it should be in this case because it simply goes into more
    detail about the severity of my condition, and according to SSA opinion evidence
    and acceptable sources, the ALJ should allow his testimony to be considered
    into the decision equation (especially since their CE never actually measured
    my range of motion). If SSA requires their medical listing of Ankylosing
    Spondylitis to be determined based off 45 degrees of vertical, then why didn’t their
    CE bother to measure such limits?

    There has been a huge clerical error since the first day of my application. The
    SSA agent entered my onset date of November 2009 instead of September 2001, and
    for over 2.5 years I have gone through 5 agents to have this date corrected.
    Even the Appeals Council remanded the first hearing with instructions for the
    ALJ to change this date to September 2001 which was STILL listed as November 2009
    by the second hearing. At the second ALJ hearing, the ME (who only showed up
    via phone – even though he lived 4 miles from the hearing office) claimed I met
    the medical listing of 14.09C1 but only as of April 2010 (date of my RFC
    reports). He also claimed he would not go back any further because “there
    wasn’t enough medical evidence before that date”. I come to find out
    because of this ongoing onset date clerical error, the ME more than likely
    wasn’t given access to any records before November 2009 because on the form he
    received in notifying him about this hearing, there was a note which read
    “your testimony will cover November 2009 to present”. Again, this
    incorrect onset date has been an issue with each step of denial and I can’t
    seem to get anyone to correct this. At the beginning of the second hearing, the
    ALJ even asked if my onset date was November 2009, and my lawyer said “no,
    it’s September 2001” then he went on to remind the ALJ about what the
    Appeals Council said in addition to the fact the ALJ agreed September 2001 was the
    correct onset date during the first hearing.

    So, this ME (who is only certified as a Psychiatrist and Neurologist) was able
    to testify against the testimony of my PCP and my RA stating he just doesn’t
    agree my condition was as severe before April 2010. My RA sent an additional
    statement claiming my disease has been in remission since 2008 (because I was
    on Humira for a year by that time), but she added “the damage had already
    been done” referring to all the fusion I already had and simply by the
    nature of the disease is progressive. By the logic of this ME, he claims I’m
    disabled in April 2010, but not anytime sooner. Even if I’ve been in remission
    since 2008, he’s not understanding in order for me to be in remission, that
    would mean I was at an ever more severe level before entering remission. I tell
    you, this ME is a loon not to mention the fact he couldn’t possibly have been
    given ALL access to my records.

    So, my point about a
    partially favorable decision… I think somehow my lawyer got the ALJ to agree
    to SSI dating back to April 2010 if I was to change my onset date to April
    2010. Of course when this was being done in the hearing, my mind was
    disconnected because I was dumbfounded how this ME took 5 quick minutes to
    disagree with everyone else involved and then for the ALJ to basically say I
    would be granted SSI if I change my onset date to April 2010 – 9 YEARS LATER
    THAN ORIGINALLY SUGGESTED. I didn’t realize they were trying to change my onset
    date. I didn’t find this out until the following week when I received my
    hearing on CD and listened to the audio of the hearing. I immediately emailed
    my lawyer to ask what the hell just happened, but after 2 weeks I have yet to
    hear anything from my lawyer (3 emails later = no response). I read in SSR
    83-20 that “Therefore, except for certain cases of aliens where an exact onset
    date of disability must be determined for eligibility purposes, the only
    instances when the specific date of onset must be separately determined for a Title
    XVI case is when the onset is subsequent to the date of filing or when it is
    necessary to determine whether the duration requirement is met.” This tells me
    my onset date didn’t even need to be changed for me to be granted SSI.

    Needless to say, I’m going
    to be appealing my partially favorable decision whenever I get it. For them to
    ignore my request for over 2.5 years to have my onset date corrected to only
    turn around and within a minute they finally change that date to my
    disadvantage is quit repulsive. I feel my risk is very minimal here for such a
    potential reward. If SSA would simply have corrected my onset date in the
    beginning (along with other mistakes), I feel I would never have had to even
    get a lawyer. What do you think?

  • stationone123

    Hey folks. STOP using your real names. NEVER use your real identity online. Always use an alias. My attorney called ODAR today and was told my case is closed. And that a letter based on the decision was mailed on October 1st. I hope I am approved because the rods in my spine have been there for 30 years and the recent clamp in my lower vertebrae failed to stop my pain. I’ll need to get a job. And that’s nearly impossible since it takes nearly 30 minutes to get out of bed in the morning. I would do anything to have a healthy body.

  • SPS

    After almost 4 years and a hearing with a ALJ i received a letter within 2 months, that was really pretty quick, I was expecting 6 months and a denial after all this time. I did receive a letter that the ALJ made a partially favorable decision. The date was in disagreement, that was all. The Social security will send out a award letter as to your backpay, thats the second letter you need to wait for and they can take up to 5 months after your notification if they want to. I cried. I know it sounds too emotional to put that here but like the person posted before me, it takes a while for my body to get to motivation, at least 2 hours for my meds to kick in. I agree I would rather have a healthy body, staying indoors secluding yourself from the world cause you don’t want to fall and end up causing a accident, or driving anyplace by yourself cause your medication effects your response time.. I mean wow. I cant even vacuum without having to stop. Im 50, I was a real social person, but now that’s restricted, It really makes me angry this has happened but I have learned to accept it and trudge on day to day , for me, when someone finally took the time to read the reports after 4 years and agree lifted about half the world off my shoulders. Financial strain wont be eliminated but the insurance will help, thank god for judges that listen