How long does it take to be approved and awarded disability benefits?

Though the Social Security Administration has mandated time goals for processing disability claims, there is no specific deadline for processing a

You may expedite the processing of your disability claim by getting your medical records and submitting them
when you file your disability claim or at any time during the decision making process if the disability examiner is having a hard time getting them.

If you do not have any current medical records that address your disabilities or the disability examiner feels they need a further review of your disabling condition, you may be required to go to a doctor for a consultative examination. This may add significant time to your disability case. It really depends on how quickly they are able to schedule an examination and how soon the examining doctor gets their report back to the disability examiner. If you have an appointment scheduled, you should try not to miss it or reschedule it. Rescheduling could add more time to your disability claim, and missing it could cause your disability claim to be denied.

Generally, it takes thirty to a hundred days for an initial disability decision. If you are fortunate enough to get an approval on your initial disability claim, you will be approved for disability in a hundred days or less. If you are not approved for disability benefits on your initial disability claim, you will have to use the Social Security Disability appeal process. And this means it will take longer to be approved for disability.

The first level of the disability appeal process is the reconsideration appeal. Reconsideration appeals take about sixty days to receive a decision. If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you must file a request for a disability hearing. The wait time for a disability hearing can be a few months or a couple of years.

How can you help your Social Security Disability claim move as fast in the system as possible? You can expedite your disability claim by going to consultative exams, by providing necessary information expeditiously, and by making sure that Social Security is able to contact you by mail and phone (disability claims are routinely denied because disability examiners are unable to reach disability applicants to schedule consultative examinations or to obtain additional information).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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