I was recently asked the following question:
The judge at my husband’s hearing said she was going to approve him. She said she would get his letter to him in the next 2 or 3 weeks, but NO letter yet.
Since she approved him during his hearing when will his benefits start?
Social Security cannot process benefits until a decision is entered. While a judge can issue a “bench decision” by orally reading a ruling into the record at the hearing, this is fairly rare. More commonly, when a judge tells you how she is going to rule, it is not the decision. It is a “preview” and “summary” of the outcome so you do not have to worry whether you will be found disabled or not.
The decision still needs to be written and electronically entered before the local Social Security office (in SSI cases) or regional payment center (in SSDI cases) can begin processing your benefits. The processing of your benefits can take a few weeks, up to a few months, before your benefits are released. However, with Social Security offices now using electronic files, the local Social Security office or payment center does not have to wait for a paper copy of the decision to start processing your benefits.
Basically, even when a judge tells you the outcome, you still have to wait for the decision to be entered, and for Social Security to process your benefits. So, even though at lot of the worrying is behind you, there is still more waiting ahead.