How long does it take to get approved for disability?

How long will it take my SSD or SSI disability claim to be approved?

This is a question that many individuals who are suffering from significant health conditions have to ask when they are considering filing for disability. Most often, individuals who are filing for disability are looking at a period of time in which they have no income and are unable to work.

The simple answer to this question would be there is no set time frame to get approved for disability. Each disability claim is as unique as the individuals who file them.

If a person has a medical condition that is expected to end in death, the disability claim is expedited, and they may have their approval in less than a month. Individuals with any one of the 226 medical impairments that qualify as a compassionate allowance (CAL) condition will quickly be approved for disability benefits.

If the above two situations do not apply, a person may still be approved in one to three months if they have a condition that meets or equals any of the Social Security Disability Impairment listings, or their physical or mental limitations are so severe that they prevent any kind of work. Basically, if a person can be approved on their initial claim i.e. disability application, it will not take long to be approved.

Many individuals will experience longer wait times if their initial disability claim is denied. If a disability claim is denied, the applicant has one choice and that is to file an appeal of the denial.

The first appeal is a reconsideration appeal that generally takes a couple of months but rarely ends in a reversal of the initial denial. If the reconsideration appeal is denied, the applicant has to file a request for an administrative law judge disability hearing appeal.

This level of the disability process results in the most approvals for disability benefits; however, it is also the longest wait time for decision. Most applicants are waiting twelve to twenty four months for a hearing across the nation.

And, of course, if a disability applicant is not approved at any level of the disability process they will have to file a new claim and begin the process again.

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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