Social Security Disability Resource Center

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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 Securtity 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?

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    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

    Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    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?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria