A medical record with stetoscope.

An on-the-record (OTR) decision is a positive determination made by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) before a disability hearing is held. The ALJ examines the medical information in an applicant’s file and rules that he or she is eligible for disability benefits based on the available medical evidence.  In simple terms, the ALJ resolves that there is no need for a hearing because the judge has enough information based on the medical record to rule that the applicant qualifies for disability benefits.

If adequate medical information is available on the applicant’s file to demonstrate that he or she meets or surpasses the definition of disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the ALJ will reach a favorable decision. If the available medical information isn’t enough for the ALJ to determine that an applicant is indeed disabled, his or her case will proceed to a hearing.

Requesting an OTR Decision

OTR decision requests are available to applicants appealing SSA’s disability benefits denial. These applicants must, however, have sufficient medical proof to demonstrate the level of their disabling condition without necessarily needing additional information. In Chicago, social security attorneys can evaluate an applicant’s situation and determine if he or she qualifies for an OTR decision. The attorneys can also guide applicants on how to request an OTR decision. Generally, there are two ways to obtain an OTR decision:

  • An OTR Request Made by a Hearing Officer. If an applicant avails new medical information that proves the disability claim, the hearing officer may find an actual hearing unnecessary and may request an OTR decision from the judge.
  • An OTR Request Made by the Applicant. The applicant shouldn’t, however, solely depend on a hearing officer to start an OTR review even if he or she provided further evidence with his or her appeal. Instead, he or she should submit a well-written OTR review request to improve the odds of obtaining a favorable decision.The applicant can submit the request to his or her local Office of Hearings Operations immediately after requesting an SSDI appeal hearing.

Social security attorneys in Chicago know how to write an OTR review request that spells out why their clients are eligible for disability benefits. Attorneys also incorporate legal reasoning in the review request explaining how the medical information in the client’s written record resolves problems or issues highlighted by the SSA’s denial letter.