As anyone applying for Social Security Disability can tell you, the process isn’t a quick one. Every day several thousand applications are filed making it hard for social security to review everyone’s claim in a timely matter. There are four stages in filing a disability claim, and there is a waiting time associated with each stage.
1. Initial Decision
This is the waiting time between when you first file for disability and receiving your first decision. Most people who qualify for benefits are initially denied at this stage. The average waiting time to get an initial decision is between 4-6 months.
If you receive an initial denial you have the option to appeal the decision. This is strongly advised as stated before most people get denied in the initial phase. Once an appeal has been filed the average wait time to receive a second decision is 3-4 months.
3. Hearing Level
If you receive another denial at the reconsideration level you may request a hearing before one of Social Security’s Administrative Law Judges. Most claims that are approved are approved at the hearing level. Currently the average wait time between requesting a hearing and getting a hearing scheduled is between 18 and 22 months. After the hearing the Judge will issue a decision, while every judge is different the average time it takes to receive this decision is about 2-4 months after the hearing.
4. Appeals Council
If you received an unfavorable decision from the Judge assigned to your case you have the option to appeal the Judge’s decision. This process takes anywhere from 18-24 months after filing the appeal.
Understandably, most people are not happy to say the least when they see these numbers, if you are unable to work you need financial assistance just as soon as possible. Our best advice is always to start now. Our office will take care of your application so it’s not something that you will need to spend a huge amount of time and energy on during the waiting period. After you are approved for benefits you will receive an initial back pay check that will pay you for the time it took to be approved. Certain needs such as homelessness and extreme medical conditions can qualify you for what is called a dire need petition which will speed up the time it takes to get a decision, ask your case manager if you qualify for this.