Can it take years to get disability?

How long is the disability process?

Subject: How long is the disability process?

Question: "I have a friend who I believe would qualify for disability, but he is under the impression that if he would be approved, it would take 3 years for payments to start. I can't believe this is true. He claims he was told this by a lawyer a year ago in a free consultation. What can I tell him?"

If your friend is not approved on the disability application or on a reconsideration appeal, yes, it could be three years from the initial disability claim (disability application) to a disability hearing.

This, of course, is very dependent upon the backlog of hearings at the hearings office, as well as how long it takes to get a decision on the application and how long the reconsideration appeal takes.

It also depends on how long it takes a person to actually get a disability appeal started. After someone is denied, SSA allows them 60 days in which to file an appeal. Obviously, it would be ideal to file the appeal the day after the denial becomes known to avoid any additional delay. Unfortunately, MANY people wait until the last moment to file their appeal. This adds months of unnecessary processing time to a case. It simply delays how long it takes to get benefits started.

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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