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How Long Does The Entire Disability Process Take

How Long Will My Social Security Disability Case Take?


As anyone applying for Social Security Disability can tell you, the process can take a long time. When dealing with SSA, nothing just happens overnight. 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 different stages in the process, and there is a waiting time associated with each stage. Some cases can be approved at the initial stage, while other cases may be approved at the hearing stage. 


1. Initial Level

After you complete your initial application and submit that application to SSA, the average waiting time to get an initial decision is approximately 12-18 months. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon to be denied at this stage. In fact only about 10-15% of applicants are approved at this stage. 

2. Reconsideration Level

If you receive a denial at the initial level, you have the option to appeal the decision. If you decide to appeal, you will have 60 days from the time you receive your denial to appeal it. Once an appeal has been filed, the average wait time to receive a second decision is about 12-18 months.

3. Hearing Level

If you receive another denial at the reconsideration level, you may request a hearing before Social Security’s Administrative Law Judges. Most claims have the highest chance of getting approved at the hearing level. At the hearing, you will have an opportunity to testify before the Judges Court regarding your limitations and impairments. If you have an attorney, they will be present at your hearing to guide you through the process and make arguments on your behalf. However, the average wait time to have a hearing scheduled is between 6-9 months. After the hearing, the judge will not normally make a decision on the spot, there will be a wait time before you receive the judges decision. The average wait time to receive this decision is about 2-4 months after the hearing. You will receive the judges written decision in the mail. 

4. Appeals Council Level

If you received an unfavorable decision from the judge, you have the option to appeal that decision to the Appeals Council. This process takes anywhere from 6-18 months after filing the appeal.

As you can see, the process is very lengthy and on average can take approximately 2 years before you receive any disability benefits. That is why it is best to seek legal counsel to help guide you through this process. 

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