How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Social Security Administration Disability Benefits From SSD and SSI

If you are filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security (SSI) benefits, the time it takes to receive a final decision on your claim varies widely, anywhere from a few months to more than a year.

The fact is, while there are some applicants that are approved for benefits fairly quickly (the average wait time for a decision on an initial application is about three months), most people who file for disability benefits are turned down. Nationwide, about 70 percent of all initial applications for disability benefits are not approved.

If you are turned down for disability, then you have the right to appeal. It usually takes less time to receive a decision on an appeal, but again, due to backlogs in the system it could take several months depending on the locale in which you file.

Unfortunately, the first appeal, called a request for reconsideration or reconsideration appeal, is decided by the same agency that denied the initial application, the state disability determination services (DDS) agency. Disability examiners employed by DDS make all decisions on SSD and SSI applications and reconsideration appeals for the Social Security Administration. These examiners are all under a considerable amount of pressure to keep their number of approvals low, and thus they are not likely to overturn a denial issued by a previous disability examiner, at least not without significant new medical documentation to consider, or some evidence of gross negligence in the initial decision-making process.

Thus, the majority of disability applicants must file a second appeal, a hearing before a federal administrative law judge, before their odds of approval are 50/50 or better. Due to the steady increase in the number of disability applications filed each year, it can take one to two years to appear before a judge and plead your case (preferably with some sort of legal representation). For those who pursue a claim to the hearing level, the statistics are encouraging. ALJs approve about 60% of all claims previously denied by DDS.

In short, it is not easy for most to get Social Security Disability benefits, but for those who are coping with a severe physical or mental impairment, giving up is not really an option. In addition, it is possible for claimants who file a request for a hearing and who can demonstrate that they are in severe financial straits to call the hearing office and ask for their hearing date to be moved up on the calendar.

There are a couple of things disability applicants can do to prepare themselves for (what can be) the long, frustrating process of getting Social Security Disability benefits.

One is to call the local Social Security office for a status update on your claim to be sure that it is being considered rather than lying buried on an examiner’s desk, as well as to be sure that Social Security has everything it needs from you to render a decision on your claim.

The other important thing to is to be sure that you have supplied a complete medical history of all places at which you have received treatment for your impairment. Be sure to include current addresses and phone numbers when possible, so that a decision on your claim isn’t further delayed because the disability examiner can’t get a copy of your records.

Also, if at all possible, ask your physician to fill out a statement detailing exactly what your physical or mental limitations are as a result of your impairment, which will allow the person deciding your claim to have a clear overview of your ability to work (or not).

Historically, examiners working for DDS do not give much weight to treating physicians’ statements, but disability judges tend to weigh them heavily in their decision-making, which may be a major factor in why judges are much more likely to approve disability applications than disability examiners employed by DDS.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

What to say at a disability hearing
How do you get the most in Social Security Disability SSI back pay?
What are wait times for Social Security Disability Hearings?
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security Disability benefits?
How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
Proving your case for mental disability benefits
What Benefits come with SSI Disability?
Social Security Attorneys and Disability Representatives
Applying for disability in Illinois
Disability Lawyers in Illinois
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Illinois?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.