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

How much time does it take to get an SSI Decision?

It really depends on what level of the Social Security Disability system (FYI: the Social Security Disability and SSI disability system are one and the same) your claim is pending at. Ordinarily, it can take months to process a claim at any level.

At the hearing level, of course, the waits can be much longer. Waiting for a disability hearing to be scheduled before an ALJ, or administrative law judge can take many months and, depending on the hearing office and its particular backlog situation, the wait may approach or even exceed a year. And after a disability hearing has been held, the time required to receive a decision from the ALJ can equate to months as well.

Note: even if the ALJ notifies the claimant and their disability attorney at the time of the hearing that the case will be approved, the payment of benefits can still be delayed for several months due to the fact that the decision will not be official until the actual notice of decision has been sent out. And receiving the notice of decision will often depend on how backed up the hearing decision writers are at a particular hearing office.

For those who are unaware, while disability judges make the decisions on cases heard at hearing offices, the responsibility for crafting the often lengthy decision notices is the responsibility of decision-writers who are usually staff attorneys. Unfortunately, decision writers have their own backlogs to deal with.

However, back to the question at hand: how long does it take to receive an SSI decision? At the disability application, or initial claim, level, it can take 90 to 120 days, on average, to get a decision on a disability case. At the next level, which is the reconsideration appeal level, the wait is usually not as long. A decision on a request for reconsideration appeal can often be received on an SSI or SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) case in 30-60 days.

For those who are interested in calling to check the status of a disability claim, bear in mind that the social security office will typically not be of much assistance in this area. This is because while an application for disability, while it is taken at a social security office, is not actually processed there.

Processing the claim--essentially evaluating the medical evidence to see if an individual satisfies the disability criteria of either the SSDI or SSI disability program--is handled by a state level agency that, in most states, is known as DDS, or disability determination services.

At DDS, cases are evaluated by disability examiners. The job function of a disability examiner is to see if the claimant's medical records reveal enough functional limitations (either physical limitations or mental limitations) such that they cannot be expected to return to their past work or peform any type of other work.

If an individual is found to be unable to perform work activity (either in going back to their past work or while doing some type of other work) at a level that can provide them with a substantial and gainful income (see Social Security SGA earnings limit), they may qualify for disability.

However, qualifying for disability benefits has an additional caveat. And this is also part of the social security administration definition of disability because qualifying for disability will mean that a person's state of disability (at the risk of being redundant, satisfying the SSA definition of disability will mean that a person will have the inability to work and earn a substantial gainful income while performing their past work or any other type of work) must last for at least one full year.

What happens if a person's condition is severe enough that it prevents them from working and earning a substantial and gainful income, but only in a period that lasts less than 12 months? Then their claim for disability will be denied on the basis of duration (not lasting long enough).

Having said that, however, if a case is being decided at the disability hearing level, a social security judge can award a lump sum payout for what is known as a closed period (a period in which the claimant met the medical rules for receiving disability which did not last for 12 months or longer). Note: Closed periods are only granted by judges at disability hearings.

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:

SSI Disability - Filing for SSI Benefits
How much time does it take to get an SSI Decision?
What Benefits come with SSI Disability?
Is There A Maximum Dollar Amount For SSI Disability?
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
What are the Assets that count for SSI Disability?
SSI Benefits - who is Eligible and How do I apply for them?
SSI Benefits - what do they include and how long does it take
What are the Application Requirements For SSI Disability?
The SSI Award Letter from Social Security
If my account goes over $2000 asset limit, will it cause a problem for SSI?
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Minnesota?
If you apply for disability in Minnesota

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.