What is the SSI and Social Security Disability Application Wait Time?

Once an individual applies for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability at a local social security office, their claim will be sent to a state disability determination agency (known as disability determination services, or DDS for short) for a medical determination.

Prior to the social security office sending a disability claim to the state disability agency, a CR, or Social Security claims representative (the CR is the person who actually takes the disability application at the social security office) has to receive all of the needed information and this includes having all of the forms in-file.

Remember, the overall processing time for your disability claim can be extended if the claims representative does not have all the forms needed to forward your disability claim to the state disability agency (where the case would be assigned to a disability examiner, the individual who gathers and reviews the medical records and then makes a medical decision on the claim).

If you have completed your application by any method other than an in-person office interview at your local Social Security office, you will have to return any needed forms (including your medical releases) prior to Social Security sending your disability claim to DDS for a decision.

Generally, your SSI disability claim (or Social Security Disability claim) will be processed in roughly one hundred days or less. This is just an estimate of the time needed for processing your disability claim. If your disabling condition is likely to result in death, Social Security has procedures in place to expedite the processing of your disability claim. Social Security attempts to process these claims within thirty days provided they can get the necessary information expeditiously.

If your medical condition is not likely to result in death, processing time can vary depending on the availability of medical records (which is exactly why you need to supply full and accurate information regarding your doctors and hospitals on the disability application so the disability examiner will have no difficulty requesting the records) and the need for additional medical information.

If you do not have any medical treatment sources, or you have no "current" medical treatment source information (Social Security considers current medical treatment to be information that is less than ninety days old; otherwise, it is not current), the disability examiner handling your disability case is likely to schedule you for a consultative examination, or several types of examinations, to address your disabling condition or conditions.

As you might guess, your disability claim will take longer to process if consultative examinations are needed due to the time it takes attend the examination, and wait for the doctor's consultative examination report.

Naturally, every SSI disability and Social Security Disability claim is unique; consequently some disability claims take a short time to process while others take longer than the hundred-day average. Social Security is always trying to trim processing time for disability cases; however, there are disability cases that simply take longer to process than others.

You can help the processing of your disability claim by having medical treatment sources for all of your disabling conditions and by making sure that you have current medical treatment. If more clarification is needed, make sure that you attend any consultative examinations and return all requested information timely.

Believe it or not, there are many claimants who are scheduled for medical examinations by independent physicians (consultative exams) and fail to go, the effect being that they slow down the processing of their claim by weeks and sometimes months (rescheduling exams is based on the availability of private, independent physicians who are willing to perform consultative exams for the social security administration).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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