Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

How long will it usually take to get a decision on a disability claim?

In certain cases, a decision on a disability application can be received in just a few weeks, which is somewhat rare unless the claimant has a terminal condition, or their case presents a profile that is suitable for processing under compassionate allowance guidelines.

At the other end of the spectrum, decisions have been known to take as much as a year. This, however, is even more rare. When it happens, it is not simply due to difficulty that a disability examiner might have in obtaining medical records, or even due to the necessity of having to schedule multiple consultative medical examinations for the claimant. Or even due to the necessity of having to defer a case for several months because the claimant has suffered a heart attack or stroke (generally, this means the examiner will need to wait three months from the time of the incident to evaluate the claimant's residual functional capacity).

Disability applications that take such an extraordinary amount of time to process usually fall into a "perfect storm" category where many separate issues present problems simultaneously. And, fortunately, this does not happen often.

The average length of time it takes to get a disability decision

The average is what generally applies to most claims: An initial disability determination for SSI benefits or Social Security Disability benefits usually takes anywhere from 30 to 120 days.

If you are denied on a disability application and file an appeal of your disability claim, beginning with the first appeal, a reconsideration appeal, your claim will be sent back to the disability agency for another decision.

Note: When we say "disability agency", we actually mean DDS, or disability determination services, the state-level agency that makes decisions on SSD, SSI, and Medicaid disability claims for the social security administration.

A decision on a reconsideration appeal usually takes less time

As a general rule of thumb, most reconsiderations usually take a shorter amount of time, between 30 to 60 days.

Why? Mainly because much of the work has already been done at the disability application stage. For example, most, or all, of the medical records will already have been gathered.

Typically, a disability examiner working on a request for reconsideration should not have to request additional medical records from a claimant's treatment sources--hospitals, doctors, clinics, psychologists--unless their file is lacking "recent records". And this is more likely to be the case when the claimant has waited until close to the very last minute to file their appeal--which is usually the case.

For a disability examiner to make a decision, particularly an approval, they need to have at least some medical evidence that is not older than 90 days so that the claimant's current disability status can be determined. The reasoning for this is that the social security administration considers the individual more likely to be disabled when their current status shows that they meet the quidelines and severity requirements of the SSD and SSI programs.

Despite the fact that SSA allows a 60 day period in which to submit an appeal at any level of the system, it is always in a claimant's best interests to get the disability appeal filed immediately.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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?
What if Social Security Disability does not follow my doctor's assessment of my condition?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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