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

What determines how long it will take to get disability at the application, reconsideration, or hearing level?

The Social Security Administration's disability evaluation process is set up to determine if an individual is totally disabled. This means that neither the title 2 Social Security Disability program nor the title 16 SSI disability program will offer offer temporary disability benefits for short-term illnesses or conditions.

Likewise, neither program will offer partial disability benefits such as the Veteran’s disability program which can award 100 percent disability, but also percentage ratings.

Furthermore, though claimants qualify for disability benefits under the premise that they are totally disabled, meaning that they no longer have the ability to engage in work activity at a substantial and gainful (SGA) earnings level, SSA does not assume that the individual will be permanently disabled.

The presumption is that the individual may potentially experience medical improvement and this is why cases undergo periodic reviews every year to see if the individual still meets the requirements for receiving benefits.

What determines if you will be approved for disability?

To receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration as a child, the medical records, and often the school records as well, must show that the individual is unable to perform age-appropriate activities in relation to their peers.

To receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration as an adult, a person must not only be unable to do any of their past work (actually, former jobs performed within the last 15 years) but also must be unable to do any other kind of work in the general economy for which their skills, education, and training might otherwise qualify them.

The determination of whether a person can go back to their past work, or switch to some form of other work is made through a five step sequential evaluation process which Social Security uses at all levels of the system, from the disability application and reconsideration levels to the disability hearing and Appeals Council review levels, and beyond.

The odds of getting an approval can be challenging, particularly at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels; at the initial disability application level 30-35 percent of claims are approved; at the reconsideration appeal level approximately 15 percent of claims are approved.

Applicants who follow the disability appeals process are certainly more than likely to win their disability benefits, but the higher rate of approval does not occur at the first appeal but, rather, at the second level which is the request for hearing before an administrative law judge. Before a hearing can be requested, of course, a case must proceed through the first two levels.

How long does it take at the application or reconsideration level?

If you win your claim and receive an approval at the disability application level, this will usually occur between 30 and 120 days. Sometimes cases take longer to process based on how long it takes to gather medical records or receive reports from independent examinations scheduled by Social Security.

At times, it can take additional months simply due to how long the process sometimes naturally takes (for instance, the case may be audited for quality control) and due to the state of backlogs in the system. However, the average processing time for an initial disability claim is about one hundred days.

If you are not approved for disability benefits at the level of an initial claim, you must file a reconsideration of your initial disability denial. Reconsideration appeals take on average sixty to ninety days to receive a disability decision, though, typically they take less than 60 days.

Unfortunately, most reconsideration appeals are also denied because they are basically just a further review of your initial disability decision.

If you have no new medical information that points toward an approval or unless the previous disability examiner made a clear decisional error in rendering their initial disability decision (such as missing a piece of medical evidence or improperly applying a medical-vocational rule), the reconsideration appeal will most likely be denied.

Filing the second appeal - the request for a hearing

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, your next step is to file a request for a disability Hearing at which an ALJ, or administrative law judge will preside.

Your chances of winning benefits dramatically improve at this appeal level. National statistics indicate that more than 60 percent of represented claimants will win at a hearing.

Depending on the case, the representative being used, and the judge hearing the case, it is not unusual for up to seventy-five percent of individuals who attend their disability hearing to be approved for disability benefits.

The down side to the administrative law judge hearing is that it takes such a long time to get a hearing scheduled. The wait for a hearing was once as long as two years but even with improvements in scheduling in recent years, it can easily take a year or longer to get a hearing date.

Assuming that a claimant qualifies for disability following a hearing, how long will it take to receive benefits? Again, this varies considerably. Even if a judge indicates to a claimant and their disability attorney that the case will be approved, the notice of decision document will still need to be compiled and written.

This is typically done by decision writers at hearing offices who are often staff attorneys with their own backlog of cases. As a result, it can sometimes take several months to receive a notice of decision even if the case is slated to be approved.

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:

When to Appeal a Disability Denial
How do I stay eligible to keep getting my disability benefits?
Does Social Security send you to a MRI or CT scan?
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security Disability?
How long does it take to get a decision on Social Security Disability or SSI?
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits When You First File?
How long will it take to start getting disability benefits after you have received an award notice?
How Long Can You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
How long does it take to appeal a disability case?
How long does it take for the disability decision in North Carolina?
How long does it take to receive North Carolina disability benefits after you are approved?
How Long Will It Take For A Decision Letter For Social Security Disability?
How do you find out how your disability claim is going and where it is in the process?

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.