Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Disability Denials and Filing Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Why is the Social Security Disability Decision Process So Slow?
It is well known that the disability determination process is often long and drawn out. There is no deadline by which a disability examiner is required to render a decision regarding disability benefits, although in most cases a claimant will receive a decision on their application within a few months. Some cases are decided more quickly, within weeks, and some can take up to a year (both scenarios are in the minority).
So what does it mean if your case is one of those that seems to be taking forever to decide? Is it an indication that someone in the disability process, perhaps the claims rep that took your application at the social security office, or the disability examiner assigned to your case, is lazy or incompetent?
The answer to this question is most certainly no. In fact, since the job performance of everyone working at the federal social security administration and state disability determination services agency is evaluated by how quickly and efficiently disability cases are closed, just about everyone involved in processing your request for benefits wants to move your claim through the system as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that can impede a disability examiner’s progress as they begin to process an application, the most common being difficulty receiving the medical records they need to make a decision regarding a claimant’s disability status.
Many individuals actually delay a decision in their own claim by providing incomplete medical history and physician contact information on the disability application that they initially submitted to social security. If the disability examiner cannot locate a claimant’s physician or medical facilities that have provided treatment, then there is no way to get copies of diagnosis, x-rays, MRIs, patient files, etc.
Even when the disability examiner is able to contact the doctors or hospitals listed on your application, many medical professionals and institutions are notorious for their slow response to requests for medical records.
In addition, some cases may have to be put on hold until the results of surgery, physical therapy, treatment with a new medication, or any other new development in the case, can be ascertained. Federal disability benefits are awarded only to individuals who are judged to be severely disabled, or disabled to the point that they are unable to support themselves financially for a period of at least a year.
If there is a chance that any treatment can significantly improve an impairment, Social Security will hold off with their decision until the effects of the treatment on a claimant’s symptoms can be evaluated.
Keep in mind that, although it is true that everyone in the disability determination process wants your case to be decided quickly, it is also true that everyone in the disability determination process wants to make sure that benefits are awarded only to those who can document, through medical evidence, that they are truly, severely disabled.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria