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 it take to get a decision on Social Security Disability or SSI?

There is no certain amount of time for a medical decision on a Social Security Disability claim or SSI claim to be processed. Usually, though, the Social Security Administration makes a medical decision on an SSD or SSI application within 30-120 days of being taken. Working as a disability examiner myself, I found that a high percentage of claims would be decided generally by the 90th day of processing.

However, some disability claims take longer to process due to a variety of reasons, which may include a lack of current medical evidence, an inability to contact the disability claimant, and missed medical or psychological exams which have been scheduled by Social Security (these are known as consultative exams). The following suggestions may help shorten the length of time needed to process your disability claim.

1. Notify Social Security of all address and telephone number changes. A disability examiner who is working on your Social Security Disability or SSI claim may need to contact you directly and ask questions about your daily activities (what you do in your normal "activities of daily living" may reflect your various physical or mental limitations), your work history (for instance, the examiner may be having difficulty identifying your job title based on the description you provided at the time of submitting your application for disability).

2. Respond to all information requests from the Social Security Administration and from the state agency (DDS, or disability determination services) responsible for making medical determinations on disability claims for the social security administration (this is where the disability examiner working on your case is based). As we said in item 1, the examiner may need to contact you about one or more aspects of your case. The quicker you respond, the sooner the disability examiner can move to get your case ready for a decision.

In some instances, if the examiner cannot reach you on the phone, or if your number has changed, they will send you a "call-in letter". This letter gives you ten days to respond. If you do not respond within the alloted timeframe, there is the slight possibility that your case could be denied for failure to cooperate (though, usually, the examiner would send more than one letter).

3. If you are scheduled for a Social Security medical or psychological evaluation (known as a CE, or consultative exam), be sure that you go to your appointment. You may reschedule your consultative exam if you need to, but remember this will most likely add additional processing time to your claim. If you know that you cannot attend a consultative exam on the appointed date, you will need to call and reschedule the examination. Do not simply "miss the appointment", because your disability claim may be denied for failure to attend your consultative examination.

Claimants are often confused as to the purpose of the examination appointment, wondering why they are being sent to one. It should be pointed out that the exam is not to provide treatment. But, instead, to get a quick snapshot of your current physical or mental limitations (some exams are mental in nature and may consist of IQ testing or memory testing).

Occasionally, a claimant will be sent to a type of exam for a condition that they do not believe they have. When this happens, it is because something in the medical indicated that a certain condition might exist. For example, a claimant's family doctor might have briefly noted "depression" in his or her treatment notes. This alone can result in a claimant being sent to a mental status exam.

4. Call Social Security from time to time to inquire about the status of your claim. The state disability agency may not have been able to contact you for some reason, or may need you to provide additional information, or there may have been a decision made on your case that, for one reason or another you did not receive notification of. It happens extraordinarily often that a claimant will not call to check on their case until four or five months have gone by, only to learn that their case was denied three months earlier and that the 60 day deadline has already passed.

Claimants who are represented can have their disability attorney or non-attorney representative conduct periodic status checks. Those who are not represented may wish to call once every 60 days. Where do you call? You can call the social security office. By doing that, you can at least learn if a decision has been made. However, it is often better to call the disability examiner who is working on the case at disability determination services. The number for the examiner can be obtained from the social security office where you initially filed your claim.

Keep in mind, however, that the disability examiner will not be able to tell you how long your case will take. Nor will the examiner be able to reveal the decision on your case if one has already been made.

Essential Questions

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Related pages:

How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security Disability?
How long does it take to get a decision on Social Security Disability or SSI?
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits When You First File?
How long will it take to start getting disability benefits after you have received an award notice?
How Long Can You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
How long does it take to appeal a disability case?
How long does it take for the disability decision in North Carolina?
How long does it take to receive North Carolina disability benefits after you are approved?
How Long Will It Take For A Decision Letter For Social Security Disability?
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How do you get Social Security Disability?

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.