Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

How long does it take for an examiner to review a disability case?

As a former disability examiner for the social security administration's DDS (disability determination services), I can accurately state that the actual review of a case does not take long at all. In fact, once the claimant's medical records and other evidence have been received, the case write-up can be completed within a handful of hours. Unfortunately, receiving just the medical records can often take weeks, and months is not unheard of.

It is for this reason that many claimants will benefit from gathering their own medical records from their various sources of medical treatment and then submitting these records at the time they file a claim for disability. Cases that arrive on a disability examiner's desk with the records already attached are usually looked at as an opportunity to get a case closed quickly, which can reflect positively on the examiner's processing statistics.

However, claimants who obtain their own records should make sure that they A) Get the records from ALL of their treatment sources and B) Get records from as far back as possible.

Getting the records from the earliest possible dates will help to prove that the claimant's state of disability exists as of the onset date alleged (AOD, or alleged onset date) on the disability application. And, of course, the earlier the onset date of the disability, the more in back pay benefits that the claimant may receive.

It should be noted, though, that medical records are not the only evidence that is gathered on a social security disability or SSI claim. Disability examiners will often be required to obtain all, or some, of the following evidence as well:

1. Additional information about the claimant's former job from a previous employer.

2. Current medical evidence in the form of a report of findings from a social security medical exam, otherwise known as a CE, or consultative examination (such an exam is typically ordered if the claimant has not received treatment for their condition in the last 90 days).

3. Information about the claimant's activities of daily living (ADLs) from either the claimant (obtained over the phone or on an ADL form), or obtained from someone the claimant has listed as a reliable third-party contact, a person who is often a friend, neighbor, or relative, but who is qualified to A) comment as to how the claimant spends their time and B) comment as to how well they are able to engage in normal daily activities.

When a disability examiner has all the information that they need to close a case, the decision can be reached in just a few hours. However, because of the time it takes to gather all the various pieces of evidence that is considered on a disability case, it can take, on average three to four months for a claimant to receive a decision on their claim.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

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    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

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    FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions

    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

    Resources on this site

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    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    What does a Social Security Disability Examiner do?
    Can I Talk To the Disability Examiner Working On My Case?
    How Does A Social Security Disability Examiner Determine a Personís Functional Limitations?
    What happens if the Social Security disability examiner cannot find all the needed medical records?
    How long does it take for an examiner to review a disability case?
    Will the the SSA Examiner Call or Contact me about my Social Security Disability or SSI Claim?
    What tools are used by a Social Security Disability Examiner to Make a Claim Decision?
    After you file for SSD, the Disability Examiner may contact you for additional information
    Filing a second application for disability
    How long does it take to get SSI Disability Benefits?
    If you apply for disability in New Mexico
    Getting a Disability Lawyer in New Mexico

    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