Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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 examinerís 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 isnít further delayed because the disability examiner canít 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 physiciansí 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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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

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