SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How long does it take to receive disability benefits after you are approved?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
How long it can take to get disability benefits following an approval, can vary tremendously. If you are only just filing a disability application in either the social security disability or SSI disability program, you will, most likely, receive an answer within 12 weeks, or four months. Social Security Claims representatives often use a blanket statement that a disability application will be processed in 90 to 120 days.
It is important to bear in mind, however, that this may only be an agency processing goal. While most cases probably are determined within this timeframe, there are also cases that take six months to a year in order to deliver a decision on a disability application.
These cases are the minority and tend to involve extenuating circumstances such as the disability examiner having a high degree of difficulty obtaining the claimant's medical records, or the claimant having to go to several consultative medical exams scheduled (and paid for) by Social Security.
Just the same, with so many variables involved in disability claims, it would not be prudent for a claimant to absolutely expect a decision and resolution to their claim in the quoted 90-120 day period.
Situations where disability applications can be decided quickly
Having said this, there are cases that are approved at the application level relatively quickly. For instance, if an individual has a disabling condition that a) fits the approval criteria of a quick disability decision case (known as QDD), b) is a physical or mental condition that is on the compassionate allowance list, c) is a terminal illness condition, or d) satisfies the criteria of a Social Security listing, they are likely to be approved for disability benefits in a fairly short amount of time.
Note: A relatively small number of cases qualify for disability through these avenues.
For claimants who have been denied on a disability application (nationally, about 70 percent of all claims are denied at this level), the next step will be file the first appeal available to claimants. This is the request for reconsideration.
How long will it take to receive a decision on a reconsideration appeal
The reconsideration typically takes considerably less time to process than the disability application. This is because when the reconsideration takes place, just a few days or weeks following the disability application phase, most of the development work for the case has already been done, meaning the claimant's work history has been evaluated and their medical records have been obtained and evaluated.
It may be necessary to obtain additional medical records if, by the time of the reconsideration, there is no "recent" evidence in the file (recent is defined by SSA as evidence that is not older than 90 days). If so, this will add more processing time to the claim. Typically, though, a decision made at the reconsideration appeal level may be made within 60 days.
How long will it take to receive benefits after an approval has been made?
Now, assuming you are actually approved on a disability claim after a decision has been reached at the disability application or reconsideration appeal level, how long will it take to receive benefits? This can vary tremendously as well. Typically, the social security administration will try to get individuals into pay status within just a few weeks of their claim being approved.
However, if your approval comes at the level of a disability hearing, it may take longer for you to receive your benefits since your case may get hung up at a payment processing center.
And, of course, even if your disability judge indicates at the time of the hearing that your case will be approved, before the case is even sent to a payment processing center it may be delayed because the judge's decision is not final until it has been written by a decision writer and then mailed to you, the applicant. And in many cases getting the written decision can take months.
Of course, if you have representation, this is an ideal way to utilize your disability attorney by having his or her office conduct followups on the disposition of your case and the payout of your benefits.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page