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 be approved for SSI or Social Security Disability?


How long does it take to get disability after you apply?

Author:Tim Moore, former Disability Examiner

Based on my experience as a former disability examiner (who made decisions on SSD and SSI claims), you can generally expect a disability application decision in ninety days or less. Sometimes, it takes longer, up to six months or more. Sometimes, the decision will be made in less than a month. But that doesn't happen often.

What makes the difference? Usually, it depends on how long it takes Social Security to get all your medical records. And this is why you should provide full and detailed information about your medical treatment sources so you don't slow your claim down.

Getting the decision vs getting approved

No matter how quickly you get a decision, the truth is that most claims are denied at the application level, and so most people will need to file one or more appeals before they are finally approved.

So, how long does it take to get approved?

How long disability approvals take on applications and appeals

Here's what happens on most claims:

1. The application decision will be made in 3-4 months, with most decisions made in under 90 days. This is what Social Security usually quotes. 70 percent of cases will be a denial, and 30 percent will be an approval.

2. In most states, the next appeal is a request for reconsideration. This decision is usually faster because the medical records will already have been gathered for the application. On average, you should get the decision in 1-2 months, and sometime in under four weeks.

How many cases get approved on a reconsideration?

The denial rate is higher on a reconsideration...mainly because the process is identical to the application. Depending on your state, the rate of denial will be about 80 percent, but it can go as high as 90 percent.

Can I predict my odds of being approved and how long my case will take?

Actually, you can.

So, if you start with 100 people applying for disability, 30 people (i.e. 30 percent) will get approved within 3-4 months time on average. The remaining 70 who got denied should file an appeal. Of those 70 who appeal, about 56 will be denied (80 percent), and 14 of them (20 percent) will be approved.

Who gets approved in a six month timeframe?

Within an average six month timeframe, about 44 of the original 100 people who filed a claim will eventually be approved, on a disability application or on a reconsideration appeal.

Having to file a request for a disability hearing appeal

But...what if you get denied on the application and also the reconsideration appeal? This is where the wait becomes longer and where you submit a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Many people get their approval at a hearing

The disability hearing is where you should have a disability lawyer, or a disability representative, to handle your case. A lawyer will try to get your case approved by meeting a disability listing, or proving you qualify through a medical vocational allowance. This is an approval that happens when your medical condition is severe enough that you can't do your past work, and can't do do some type of other work.

How long does it take to get a disability hearing?

If you submit a request for a hearing, how long it takes will depend on your state, because backlogs vary from state to state. However, you should expect that it will take between 6 months and a year to get a hearing. In many states, it can take longer. After getting a lawyer, that individual can tell you about current wait times for hearing requests in your state.

How long does it take to get a disability decision after the hearing is held?

Many judges will tell you at the hearing that the decision will be forthcoming. They might even say that it will be a few weeks. However, there's more to the story. Even if the ALJ, or administrative law judge, makes up his or her mind quickly, the decision still needs to be written up. This is done by a decision writer at the hearing office. And this can take weeks because decision writers also have backlogs.

So, it could be weeks or months after a hearing before you get a notice of decision. If it seems as though your case is taking too longer, call your lawyer and have them contact the hearing office for a status update on your hearing. I have made many of these calls and sometimes the call actually gets the case finished sooner. Sometimes, the case was held open for evidence and they didn't realize the evidence had already been received...until you made the status check.

Can you get a faster disability decision?

This can happen, but it usually applies to certain circumstances. Not all disability applicants have to go through the entire disability process and Social Security uses some streamlining procedures to decide which cases should get faster attention.

Terminal cases, or TERI cases

If a person has a terminal condition, their disability claim is expedited through the TERI process. TERI designated disability cases are generally processed in less than thirty days.

What if your case is not terminal?

Social Security has a couple other programs that help move cases faster. They are the quick disability determination (QDD) and Compassionate Allowances processes.

Quick disability determination, or QDD cases

Regarding QDD, this process analyzes elements of the disability claim to determine if it will most likely result in an approval for benefits. Once a disability claim is designated as a QDD claim, it is on track for a quick disability decision.

Compassionate allowance decisions

The compassionate allowance process helps Social Security identify disability claims that involve conditions that nearly always meet the qualifications of an impairment listing in the Blue Book (the list of impairments).

There are well over one hundred compassionate allowance conditions, and more will probably be added in the the years to come.

Not giving up on your claim

The important thing to remember is that you should stick with the disability process. Most people get denied not once, but at least twice. So, even if it means a long wait for an administrative law judge hearing, keep pushing forward with your case. Because eventually the odds of winning disability benefits will be in your favor.

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:

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?
Can I file for SSI online?
How to claim disability benefits

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.