How often does someone get disability approved in just a few months?

The odds of being approved for disability in just a few months are good. If someone gets approved for disability at their initial disability claim (i.e. disability application), or they are approved at the reconsideration appeal level it is likely it will take just a few months to get disability benefits.

Initial disability claims generally take about three months for a decision; even if that decision is a denial, the denial can be appealed with a reconsideration appeal, formally known as a request for reconsideration. When a reconsideration is requested, the case is sent back to DDS, or disability determination services and the same process is used to evaluate the case; only this time, the case is handled by a different disability examiner.

Reconsideration appeals take about sixty days for a decision. The processing time periods of these levels of the Social Security Disability process would allow someone to get disability benefits in a few months provided they are approved for disability benefits at either of these levels.

National Social Security approval rate statistics show that roughly thirty to thirty-five percent of all disability applicants get disability approved with their initial disability claim. While reconsideration appeals have the highest rate of denial in the Social Security Disability process, another ten to fifteen percent are approved. In fact, taken as a whole, approximately 40 percent of those who file their disability applications will likely get their disability approved in less than a year. However, that still leaves a majority who are denied and must request a hearing in order to eventually be awarded benefits.

Can you shorten the time it takes to process your case?

If you have a severe medical condition, you might shorten the time it takes to be approved for disability benefits by getting medical records from all of your medical sources that have treated you within the past twelve months. Social Security will take any medical records even if they are further in the past; however they must have medical records of treatment that are no more than ninety days old to make their disability determination.

If you are not financially able to provide them yourself (doctors and hospitals will sometime provide free copies, but may also charge for copying), make sure you can give the Social Security claims representative at the social security office the information that will be needed to obtain records from your treatment providers: their names, addresses, treatment dates, etc.

This enables the disability examiner working on your disability claim to get all of your medical records timely. If you have no medical treatment or nothing in the recent past, it is likely you will be sent to a consultative examination. Consultative examinations will allow the disability examiner to get a current status of your disabling conditions.

It is important that you attend your consultative examination if one is scheduled for you; if you reschedule your examination you add more processing time to your disability claim. However, if you miss it and do not reschedule, your disability claim will be denied so reschedule if necessary.

Other than trying to make sure Social Security has all the medical information they need, you can make sure that you and your third party contact person (you will list this person at the time you file for disability--the third party contact is someone who is familiar with your situation and condition and can be reliably contacted to provide information) return questionnaires about your ability to perform daily activities.

Disability examiners use these questionaires'known as 'activities of daily living questionaires--to get an idea of how your disabling conditions limit you and prevent you from working.

Lastly, make sure that you do not wait your entire sixty-day appeal period before filing for a reconsideration appeal. This just adds an unnecessary two months to the time it takes to get approved for disability.

Note: This pages does not address this question in terms of an administrative law judge hearing disability, because if your case is heard by a judge at a hearing, it will take more than a few months to get your disability approved due to the lengthy wait times involved in getting a hearing scheduled.

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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