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?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
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 be approved for Social Security disability ?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Though the Social Security Administration has mandated time goals for processing disability claims, there is no specific deadline for processing a Social Security disability or SSI claim. Some individuals are approved in under a month, while others may not be approved for disability for a couple of years or more.
There are a number of factors that affect the timely processing of disability claims. Some individuals have no current medical records; consequently a consultative examination (a consultative exam is a medical and/or mental examination paid for by the Social Security Administration) may need to be scheduled to evaluate the severity of an individual's conditions. This, of course, adds processing time to a disability claim.
Another factor that affects the time it takes for your disability claim to be approved or denied is availability of past and current medical records. Some medical providers are fairly slow about sending medical records to the state agency responsible for processing disability claims (this agency is usually called DDS in most states, or disability determination services).
You may expedite the processing of your disability claim by getting your medical records and submitting them when you file your disability claim or at any time during the decision making process if the disability examiner is having a hard time getting them.
If you do not have any current medical records that address your disabilities or the disability examiner feels they need a further review of your disabling condition, you may be required to go to a doctor for a consultative examination. This may add significant time to your disability case. It really depends on how quickly they are able to schedule an examination and how soon the examining doctor gets their report back to the disability examiner. If you have an appointment scheduled, you should try not to miss it or reschedule it. Rescheduling could add more time to your disability claim, and missing it could cause your disability claim to be denied.
Generally, it takes thirty to a hundred days for an initial disability decision. If you are fortunate enough to get an approval on your initial disability claim, you will be approved for disability in a hundred days or less. If you are not approved for disability benefits on your initial disability claim, you will have to use the Social Security disability appeal process. And this means it will take longer to be approved for disability.
The first level of the disability appeal process is the reconsideration appeal. Reconsideration appeals take about sixty days to receive a decision. If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you must file a request for a disability hearing. The wait time for a disability hearing can be a few months or a couple of years.
How can you help your social security disability claim move as fast in the system as possible? You can expedite your disability claim by going to consultative exams, by providing necessary information expeditiously, and by making sure that Social Security is able to contact you by mail and phone (disability claims are routinely denied because disability examiners are unable to reach disability applicants to schedule consultative examinations or to obtain additional information).
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials