How long does it take to appeal an SSD or SSI disability case?
The social security administration does not employ specific deadlines for case processing on SSD and SSI applications or appeals. This is very different from other types of programs, such as the types of programs that may be applied for at the Department of Social Services which have very distinct deadlines.
The reason for the lack of processing deadlines on Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims is fairly easy to understand, however.
Regarding the first item and speaking as a former disability examiner, I can state that obtaining medical records can be harder in some cases than in others, particularly when it involves attempts to locate older records. Also, some doctor's offices and hospitals are simply much slower at responding to record's requests.
Regarding the second item, the disability evaluation process can sometimes take longer due to the fact that a claimant's medical records will be read, reviewed, and evaluated not only by the disability examiner who has been assigned to the case, but also by a physician (or pschologist for mental impairments) that is assigned to the examiner's processing unit, and by the disability examiner's unit supervisor.
So, having said all this, how long does an appeal take? The first appeal, the reconsideration, can sometimes take longer than an initial claim. But, very often, reconsiderations are decided more quickly, simply because the claim is being looked at a second time by the same agency just a few weeks after the initial claim (i.e. the disability application) was processed.
On average, reconsideration appeals take about 30-60 days. The second appeal, the disability hearing before a federal administrative law judge, can take considerably longer. After requesting a hearing, it can take 1-2 years to get a hearing date. This depends on where you live and how backed up your local hearing office is.
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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