Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

Why Do Social Security Disability Claims Take So Long?

To the claimant filing for disability, the process of receiving a decision no doubt seems unnecessarily long, especially when the waiting period is generally one of financial and emotional hardship. Indeed, the wait for processing social security disability (SSD) or SSI claims has always been months rather than weeks, and it is growing even longer due to the increase in disability applications nationwide—an aging workforce and depressed economy have contributed to the backlog of disability cases filed with social security.

In addition, because disability claims are so often denied upon initial review, and must then pass through the first appeal (called a request for reconsideration), and then upon denial of the reconsideration appeal to a hearing before an administrative judge, the wait for a final decision on an application can stretch from several months into years (the wait to have a case heard before an administrative judge can take up to two years in some areas). In fact, most disability cases must work their way through all three levels, initial request, reconsideration appeal, and disability hearing, before they are finally (if ever) approved.

Although it is true that the process of disability claim approval is lengthy by its very nature, you stand the best chance of having your claim approved early on if you have provided your disability examiner with the contact information needed (this means everything) to obtain all medical records pertaining to your disabling medical condition.

This is because the examiner makes his or her disability determination based solely on information supplied in medical records from physicians and medical facilities whose names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., you have supplied in the your medical history.

The amount of time it takes to process your claim is therefore dependent in large part on the completeness and accuracy of the medical history you have provided, as well as how quickly those physicians listed forward your medical records to the disability examiner. If you have provided a sketchy medical history, the disability examiner will not be able to track down all of the information needed to corroborate your condition.

On the other hand, if you are confident that you have provided a solid medical history and should have received a decision by now (remember that the average wait to hear back on a disability claim is three to four months), you may want to call your disability examiner and find out if he or she needs more information or is having trouble getting your medical records (you can find out the phone number to the disability determination agency in your area by calling the social security office at which you filed the claim). It may be that you can speed up the process if you get the records from your physician yourself and then forward them to the examiner.

  • 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

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    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

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    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

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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
    What questions does Social Security ask during your annual SSI review?
    When will I know if disability does an on the record review?
    What should I do, I was denied Social Security disability for the second time?