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 a Social Security Disability or SSI Appeal Take?

A disability appeal can take longer or shorter, depending on the type of appeal that is filed. Hearing requests (the second level of appeal), for example, will, almost by necessity, take considerably longer than a request for reconsideration (the first level of appeal). A request for review of an administrative law judge's decision (this is the third appeal and the review is carried out by the appeals council) may take even longer than the hearing level.

1. The first appeal, the request for reconsideration - This appeal is submitted after a disability application (filed with the social security administration for either SSDI or SSI benefits) has been denied. The reconsideration appeal is processed, like the disability application, by a disability examiner at disability determination services, or DDS. The reconsideration appeal is generally processed in shorter time.

Why? Because the reconsideration appeal must be requested within 60 days of the denial date of the disability application. This means that when the reconsideration appeal is assigned to a reconsideration-level examiner, it will already have most of what is needed to make a decision.

The reconsideration examiner may need to request additional medical records. To make a decision on a claim, an adjudicator must have at some medical evidence that is not older than 90 days; however, for the most part, the reconsideration-level examiner will already have most of his or her work already done (done by the initial examiner who, just a few weeks earlier, worked on the disability application).

A reconsideration appeal can usually be decided in as little as four weeks or as long as twelve weeks; whereas an application for disability can take as long as six months (usually, if it takes this long it is due to difficulties in procuring medical records from various doctors and other medical providers).

2. The second appeal, the request for a disability hearing - This appeal is markedly different from the request for reconsideration. It is not handled by a disability examiner or by disability determination services at all. This appeal level is where the case moves outside of the lower levels and it is distinguished by the following facts:

a. The social security administration no longer gathers medical records for the case at this level. At the hearing level, this is now the responsibility of the claimant and/or the claimant's social security lawyer.

b. The claimant and/or their representative (the attorney, or non-attorney if the claimant has chosen a non-attorney representative) will actually interact with the decision-maker, an administrative law judge at a hearing office.

c. The claimant and/or their representative can have the opportunity to make certain types of requests to either the judge or the hearing office director. The first request, sent to the hearing office director, is a request for the claim to be expedited due to dire need, which can be for medical or dire financial reasons. Dire need requests usually need to be substantiated by some type of documentation.

For example, if a person is in danger of losing their domicile and becoming homeless due to prolonged lack of income, they may submit copies of foreclosure or eviction notices along with their dire need request letter.

A second type of request that can be made at this level is for an on-the-record review. This is a request for the evidence of the case to be reviewed before a hearing is even held.

When an OTR review is granted, it is usually because the disability attorney handling the case believes that the medical evidence (and the case itself) is very strong and that there is a good chance that the administrative law judge will approve the claim following an on-the-record review of the case.

If a judge decides to approve the case following an OTR review, it must be fully favorable. Anything less than a fully favorable decision would mean either that a hearing would still need to be held, or that the claimant would have to agree to the terms requested by the judge to approve the claim without the need for a hearing -- usually, this would mean that the judge would propose altering the onset date for the claimant's disability, which would mean less in back pay benefits, and the claimant would need to formally agree to this.

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:

The Levels Of The Social Security Disability and SSI Application and Appeal Process
How does the Social Security Disability Appeal Process work?
Is it better to appeal or file a new claim if your disability is denied?
How Long Are You Given To Appeal Your Social Security Disability Denial?
How Long Does a Social Security Disability or SSI Appeal Take?
Will I be approved for disability on my appeal?
What Happens If I Miss My Social Security Disability Appeal Date?
How Do I Find Out How My Disability Appeal Is Going?
Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
How Long Does It Take To Get SSDI If You Have To Appeal?
If Your Disability Benefits Are Stopped Can You Get Them While You Appeal?
Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal or SSI Appeal
Getting a Disability Lawyer in New York
If you apply for disability in New York
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in New York

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.