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 Long Does A Social Security Disability Appeal Take?

The length of time a Social Security Disability appeal takes is most affected by the appeal level of the disability claim.

If an individual is appealing their initial disability decision, they will have to file a reconsideration appeal. Reconsiderations are a mirror image of the disability determination process at the application level. There is essentially no difference between the two stages other than the fact that a different person works on the claim.

How long does a Social Security reconsideration appeal take? Generally, a reconsideration appeal decision does not take as long as an initial disability claim decision. Initial claims, or disability applications are generally quoted as requiring 90-120 days in order for Social Security to reach a decision. Reconsiderations often take considerably less time than this and it is not unusual for a reconsideration appeal decision to be made within 30 days.

This is, in part, because reconsideration appeals are basically just a review of the decision on the initial claim, but this time performed by another disability examiner at the same state disability agency where disability determinations are made (this agency is known in most states as DDS, or disability determination services).

In many instances, the examiner who works on the reconsideration appeal does not even have to get any new medical information to make their decision. This is especially so if the disability claim had current medical information in it from the initial disability decision (on the disability application) that was, in most cases, made just weeks earlier.

In somes cases, the turn around time can be as a little as a week or so. As one might guess, very few initial disability decisions are overturned at the reconsideration appeal level. In fact, nationally, only about 11-15 percent of reconsideration appeals are approved.

The wait for a disability hearing and decision

When the reconsideration appeal is denied, the next step will be to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. Disability applicants run into long waits when they file their request for an administrative law judge hearing (the second appeal in the social security appeal system). Wait times for a disability hearing can be as long as a couple years in some areas of the country.

Why is the case? Social Security hearings offices across the nation have huge backlogs of hearing requests. The wait for a hearing will usually make the total wait time for a disability claim stretch to at least two years, counting the time it has taken for a decision on a disability application, the filing of a reconsideration request, the time it takes for that decision to be made, and then for the hearing to be requested and scheduled.

How long does it take to get a decision following the actualy holding of a hearing? As this page states (How Long Does It Take To Get The Results Of A Disability Hearing?), "ALJs will often inform the claimant that they may receive written notification 45 days to 90 days after the hearing date. However, it is not unusual for a hearing office to deliver a decision on a disability hearing only after several months have passed."

There is just no way around the fact that the disability appeal process can be an arduous journey filled with stress and financial difficulty simply because of the disability hearing wait time. And, of course, another fact that disability applicants should consider is that they may not win their disability benefits the first time, or even the second time they go through the disability claim process.

Related: How to win Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.

The best thing a disability applicant can do to speed up the Social Security appeal process is to make sure they (or their representative, who can be a disability attorney or a non-attorney representative), file their appeal quickly if they receive a denial notice. Just by doing this, an individual might shave off three or four months of processing time. And when an individual is desperately waiting for income, every month counts.


Can you speed up the Social Security Disability process?
Can a disability attorney speed up my disability case? By What Methods?

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:

The Levels Of The Social Security Disability and SSI Application and Appeal Process
How does the Social Security Disability Appeal Process work?
Is it better to appeal or file a new claim if your disability is denied?
How Long Are You Given To Appeal Your Social Security Disability Denial?
How Long Does a Social Security Disability or SSI Appeal Take?
Will I be approved for disability on my appeal?
What Happens If I Miss My Social Security Disability Appeal Date?
How Do I Find Out How My Disability Appeal Is Going?
Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
How Long Does It Take To Get SSDI If You Have To Appeal?
If Your Disability Benefits Are Stopped Can You Get Them While You Appeal?
Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal or SSI Appeal
Eligibility and Qualifications for Disability in Illinois
Disability denial in Illinois, when to get a lawyer

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.