If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability Benefits you have probably heard the horror stories from a friend who 6 years to get approved. Luckily, if you handle your claim properly is certainly will not take 6 years. Currently the average wait time to get approved for benefits is anywhere between 6 and 24 months depending on what stage of the process you are approved at. If these still seem like a very long time to you, it is important to remember that every day Social Security gets thousands of applications. Hiring a Disability Attorney can help you navigate your way through the back log to help you get approved just as quickly as possible. Below is the break down on wait times for each stage of the Disability Application process.
1. Initial Decision
This is the waiting time between when you first file for disability and receive 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 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 Stage
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 about 18-24 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 and hire and experienced Disability Lawyer. 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.