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

Disability Claims Through Social Security — How Long is the Process?

If you have recently filed a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD), it may take longer than you think to receive a decision in your case.

While it is true the average time elapsed between the time you apply for disability and the time you receive a decision is about 90 days, many cases are not decided within this timeframe. It is not uncommon for it to take up to six months (or even longer) to receive a decision from disability determination services (DDS).

While it may be tempting to blame the slow pace on the disability examiner assigned to your case, it is far more likely that delays are caused by the failure of physicians and hospitals to forward medical records to the examiner in a timely fashion.

It may be hard to believe, but the disability examiner (who evaluates your level of disability based on information given in your medical records) has about as much incentive to process claims quickly as the claimants themselves. Examiners’ performance evaluations are based on the number of cases they are able to close over a given period of time.

If three to four months has passed since you filed for disability and you haven’t received word from DDS, call the social security office at which you filed the claim and ask if they can tell you if there has been a decision in your case. You can also ask them for the phone number to for the disability determination services in your area (this can go by a different name, but usually has the word disability somewhere in the title), because if you really want a detailed status of your disability case, this is where you need to call.

DDS should be able to direct you to the disability examiner who is assigned to your case, who can tell you if the case is pending or if a decision has been reached on your disability application or reconsideration appeal.

It can also give you the chance to find out the nature of the delay in your case—if your examiner is having difficulty getting records from a particular physician, you may want to call the doctor’s office yourself, and (politely!) remind them that DDS has made a request for your records.

Essential Questions

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The listings, list of disabling impairments

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Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

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New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

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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?

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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.