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
Why is the Social Security Disability Decision Process So Slow
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
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, disability 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.
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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