Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Still Waiting For My Social Security Disability Decision

I recently came across this question about Social Security disability in a forum and I thought it would be good to address how long disability determinations take and what is involved in the medical evaluation process.

“I applied in May, but still have heard nothing from DDS since July when my case work said I do not have to have a consultative exam as their doctors would know nothing about my rare condition. Can you shed some light on why I still do not have an initial decision?”

As a former disability examiner, I can say that there are many conditions for which there would be no need to send an individual to a consultative examination. Consultative exams are generally used to give the social security administration a current medical status. This is for disability claims in which the disability examiner does not have any current medical information, or for which the information they have is inadequate.

To be honest, there are some conditions for which there is no way for a consultative examination to address the claimant's limitations or the status of their condition. For instance, consultative examinations are not scheduled to evaluate cancer, or genetic or other rare diseases. This is because there is no way objectively evaluate these kinds of conditions. And, frankly, the physician performing the consultative examination would not be qualified to do so.

Now back to this person’s question. In this particular situation, the person filed in May and it is now July. This is not a long time for a medical determination, since most initial disability claims take an average of about 130 days. Of course, some disability claims take less and some take more. If an individual has a terminal condition, the disability decision is usually completed within thirty days so that the individual can be paid as soon as possible.

Barring a terminal illness, it could take some time to be approved. Secondly, Social Security is more interested in how a disabling condition limits an individual’s ability to perform substantial work activity rather than what the specific disease or condition is. If the disability examiner has a hard time determining the limitations of a disease or condition, it could take more time to evaluate what the disabled person’s residual functional capacity is (what they are able to do in spite of their disabling condition) and how that might affect their ability to perform past work or any other kind of work.

The disability process takes time because all of a disability claimant’s medical information must be requested and reviewed. If there is not enough information available from the records that are gathered, consultative examinations must be completed. And after all of this, the disability examiner must evaluate how the condition affects the disability claimant’s ability to work.

It is not surprising that the individual who asks the question is still waiting for a medical decision if only a couple months elapsed since they filed their claim, simply because most disability claims take this long or longer to get a decision even if they do not involve a rare disease or condition.

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  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    The list of differences between Social Security Disability and SSI
    How to get disability, tip 3
    What does it mean when a disability judge is reviewing your case?
    How long does it take to get a decision on Social Security disability or SSI?
    What kind of Final Decision can I receive on my Disability Application?
    How are Decisions on SSDI and SSI Disability Claims made by SSA?
    How the Decision on a Disability Application or Appeal is Made
    Who Makes The Social Security Disability Decision, A Judge Or A Caseworker?
    How long does the Social Security judge take to make a decision on a case?
    Will an SSI or Social Security Exam help with the Decision?
    Can you get a Social Security Disability decision in under a month?
    Still Waiting For My Social Security Disability Decision
    The average amount of time it takes for a disability decision
    Social Security Disability, SSI Decisions – What Is the Rate of Approval?
    Social Security On The Record Disability Decisions

    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