Let’s start by saying that like any other type of case, it is impossible to predict how long it will take the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make a decision on your disability case. Lamentably, for many applicants, the whole process can be awfully long. Adding to that, there is stress and anxiety caused by an uncertain amount of time without receiving income for those already trying to get well, plus not knowing if they will end up being approved or denied.

The length of the application process will vary depending on:

  • How severe the illness is,
  • The meticulousness of the application,
  • The supportive evidence and medical records, or
  • Whether your case can be expedited (under critical cases.)

The application process timeline has three main steps, but not all individuals will necessary process through each one of them:

Initial Application – Once received, the application will be processed by a local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office who will verify any non-medical eligibility requirements, such as marital status, age, address, employment, and Social Security coverage information, etc. After that, the application goes to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency who will develop the medical evidence for the claim and will determine whether or not the applicant is considered medically disabled. This process can take anywhere from three to five months to complete.

Reconsideration – A denied applicant has 60 days from the date shown on the denial letter to file an appeal for reconsideration. Waiting time for reconsideration is about three to four months from the date that the request of appeal is filed. Keep in mind that roughly a little over 30% of applicants are approved at the initial application process, meaning that almost 70% of first-time disability applicants are initially denied, so do not get discouraged if you get denied the first time.

Hearing Level – If the request for reconsideration is denied, the applicant has 60 days from the dated denial to request an appeals hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). The total time for cases at the hearing level includes the time from when a hearing is requested to when the administrative law judge (ALJ) makes a decision. It can take anywhere from 12 months to 22 months, but while the wait is extreme, the chances of being approved for disability benefits increase dramatically.

All in all, every case is different. Applicants with severe or life-limiting illnesses may get approved for benefits in a matter of weeks. Others who meet specific criteria for a condition may be approved with a couple of months. But in general, most people who apply to get SSD will wait anywhere from 12 months to over 2 years for a final disability determination.

At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients with their SSD cases and provide valuable information to those looking into applying for disability benefits, or are interested in filing appeals from their initial denial. If you are looking to file your initial SSD case claim, you can download our guide here and file your application online here.

No matter whether you have been denied once or twice, if you feel that you have a case and have all your proper documentation, we are happy to review your case and assist you with filing your reconsideration claims after the Social Security Administration issues your initial denial. Do not hesitate to call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. We do not charge an up-front fee for social security legal representation.  Click here for more information about social security disability and how Seff & Capizzi can help.