Approval & Denial Timeline
How Long Will It Take for Social Security Disability to Be Approved or Denied?
It can be frustrating to wait—and wait—for a determination on your Social Security Disability application for benefits. It is virtually impossible to know whether you will be successful with your initial application or if you will be forced to go through the appeal process. The exact time it takes you to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits depends on a number of things. The first is which state you live in and how backed up their SSD system is. Beyond that, if your initial application is not totally and correctly filled out, it could be denied.
In the same vein, if you failed to include sufficient medical evidence to back up your claim of disability, it is likely to be denied, and you have just added time to the overall process. It can generally take from one to four months for your initial application to be approved or denied. At the reconsideration level, your application could languish for one to three additional months. Once your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, it will go before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing.
There are currently more than a million Americans waiting for their appeals hearing. Unfortunately, this wait could take anywhere from one month to more than two years. Waiting two years for those who are disabled means their disability will progress during that time, and they will face difficult financial hardships. The amount of time you will wait for your ALJ appeals hearing is also heavily dependent on where you live. Data from 2018 found that some areas—like Providence, RI—have the shortest wait times, while Chicago and New York City have an average wait time of 24 months or more.
Other issues that will affect how long your claim will take include:
- The strength of your disability legal firm
- How severe your medical condition is
- How well-supported your medical claim is
- How much medical evidence you provide
- The completeness of your initial application
- How old you are
- The type of work you did before your disability (those who engaged in physical labor tend to be approved a bit faster)
- The efficiency of your local SSD field office
- The efficiency of your ALJ office
When you submit your initial SSD application, an examiner will make an initial decision regarding whether you qualify for benefits. Roughly two-thirds of all initial applicants receive a decision within six months of the date they filed their application. A bit more than a third of all initial applicants receive a decision within three months. If your initial application is denied, you can send it for reconsideration, where it will be looked at by essentially the same people who looked at your initial application. This process can take about the same amount of time as the initial application—with an average of three months.
Following a reconsideration denial, almost half of all applicants will wait between one year and two years for an ALJ hearing. The other half waited a year or less. Following your ALJ hearing, about forty percent of applicants receive a decision within a month, and another forty percent receive an ALJ decision within one-three months. Only about twenty percent of applicants will wait more than three months for an ALJ decision. Those denied at the ALJ level have two more appeals, which can add a significant amount of time to the overall total.
Applying for Social Security Disability can be difficult and frustrating. The process can be much less difficult when you have an experienced Social Security Disability attorney in your corner who can walk you through the process. Contact Carmichael Law Group today for knowledgeable, compassionate help with your SSD benefits application and appeals.