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This search query brought a reader to this site today: how strong does your case have to be to request an on the record decision?

An on the record request asks Social Security to grant your case "on the record" without a hearing. This request is for claims awaiting a hearing at Social Security's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

An on the record (OTR) decision can only be fully favorable. You cannot lose your case on the record. Rather, if the OTR request is denied, your claim simply goes back in line for an eventual hearing.

Your claim should be clear cut for a good chance at an OTR decision. A strong case would have not just strong medical evidence, but also clear evidence of your functional limitations. If it is clear from the record that the five-step sequential evaluation process would yield a finding of "disabled," then an OTR request is a good idea. It also helps if DDS made an error in its earlier decision.

One group of claimants that are good candidates for OTR requests are those who are over the age of 50 (or better yet, over the age of 55), are clearly unable to perform their past relevant work, and are limited to unskilled work. Social Security's Medical-Vocational Guidelines direct a finding of "disabled" for such claimants, so an OTR decision is a strong possibility.

Of course, a Social Security attorney can help you with an on the record request.