Overview of Disability

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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

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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 does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?

There are two aspects to this question: how long it takes to get a hearing scheduled, and how long it take to get to get a decision after a hearing has been held.

How long does it take to get a disability hearing scheduled?

Due to backlogs, and depending on which part of the country you live in, it can take well over a year. In the recent past, waits of two years or longer, from the time a request for hearing has been submitted (usually via a disability attorney), were not unheard of. Depending on how well the SSA disability system is funded and staffed in the future, such extreme wait times could conceivably return.

How long does it take to get a decision from a social security administrative law judge?

Again, this varies. Some judges will get the decision notice out fairly quickly. Others will take an inordinate amount of time. Much of this has to do with the fact that judges make decisions but do not actually write the lengthy decision notices themselves. Notices of decision (unfavorable, partially favorable, fully favorable) are written by decision writers at hearing offices (who are usually staff attorneys).

There are instances in which a disability judge will actually indicate at the hearing what the decision is

This is known as a bench decision and the judge would only do this if the decision was a fully favorable approval). However, even in these cases, the actual decision notice may not come for many months, again because the decision-writer needs to compile the decision notice...and the decision-writer may be as backed up as the judge due to how backlogged the system is in general.

As someone who has previously been a disability examiner, and as someone who has been involved in claimant representation, I can state that there are cases in which it can take as long as nine months to receive a decision from a judge following a hearing. However, these cases are the minority. Usually, a claimant can expect to get a decision after a disability hearing has been held in ninety to one hundred twenty days.

Without a doubt, the wait for a decision notice following a hearing can be very frustrating. While the case is pending (waiting for a decision), the claimant, can periodically call for a status update. Generally, a claimant who has been to a disability hearing will be represented so the representative's office will make the occasional status update call to the hearing office.

How useful are such calls? While most calls to the hearing office will simply get a response similar to "no decision has been made yet", there are instances in which a judge's clerk will notify the claimant's attorney (or the attorney's assistant) that certain medical evidence still needs to be entered into the file. Typically, this would have been evidence that was requested by the disability attorney and which had not arrived by the time the hearing was held (Judges will ordinarily hold the hearing "open" for a certain period to allow the claimant's lawyer time to obtain the records from the medical provider).

However, there are cases in which "something has fallen through the cracks", meaning that the evidence in question was not received by the judge's clerk...or the evidence was received and the judge's clerk failed to realize this. So, for this reason alone, status update calls are always a good idea. And this applies to other levels of the disability appeal system as well.

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

Related pages:

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
What happens when you go to a Social Security disability hearing?
How do I request a social security disability hearing - How do I file?
Requesting a Social Security Hearing when you have a Disability Representative or Attorney
How long does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?
What are the odds of a judge giving you a disability denial?
What is a Social Security administrative law judge disability hearing?
What is the time frame for a judge to make a decision for a disability hearing?
How should I prepare for a disability hearing with Social Security?
What are the questions that get asked at a social security disability or SSI hearing?

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
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria