Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Why do disability claims take so long in California?

Here's my list of answers to the question.

1. The disability application claim process in California has always taken a long time. Even before the current backlogs began to develop, it was not unusual for an initial claim to take four to six months, or even longer. The processing time, of course, had much to do with how long it took to get the necessary medical records. However, with an increase in disability applications, which occurs both with a graying population and with a changing economy, longer processing times at the initial level are to be expected.

2. Cases that are denied at the disability application level proceed to the first appeal level, which occurs after a request for reconsideration has been filed. Reconsiderations are often determined faster than applications. Nonethless, the simple fact that a claim has to proceed through another step adds a significant amount of time to the claim process.

3. If a disability case is denied at the reconsideration level, then a claimant should, in most circumstances, file a request for a hearing. A number of years ago, a hearing request might have, depending on which part of the country you live in, resulted in a hearing date within three to five months. This, obviously, added a significant, additional block of time to the process. However, with current backlogs, the wait for a hearing can easily be as long as two years in some areas.

Is it possible to win a social security disability or SSI case in California prior to the hearing level, saving months or years of valuable time, and, thus, avoiding harsh financial consequences as a result of this overly extended process? In some cases, it may be possible. As I've said before, disability determinations are based solely on medical evidence. And, amazingly, many applicants who file for benefits do not include on their applications the information that a disability examiner needs to expeditiously gather the medical records, such as the names of treatment facilities (hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices), and the addressess and phone numbers of the same. In many cases, in fact, claimants will only list one or two medical sources, for some reason leaving off three or four sources of treatment.

Tip: when you apply for disability, provide full and extensive information regarding where you've been treated. Because without doing this, the individual who works on your case (the examiner) won't be able to gather the information that may prove helpful in getting your case approved.

Second tip: after you apply for disability, attempt to contact the examiner who has been assigned to your case (the number for the agency where the examiner is based can usually be obtained from the social security office where you filed your claim) to see if they need any additional information and also to see if they have been able to obtain your records from each medical provider. It is not unusual, in cases where the examiner is having difficulty getting records, for a claimant to personally visit a doctor or hospital to obtain the records and then send them to the examiner.

  • 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:

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    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

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    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

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    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

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    How do I Apply for Disability Benefits in California

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    SSD and SSI applications in California

    What do you do if your California disability claim is denied?

    Do you file for your children when you apply for disability in California?

    Should you apply for disability in California after a denial?

    How long does a disability case take in California

    After you file for disability in California

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    Filing a disability claim in California, long filing process

    The California disability process

    Do I need to be disabled a year in California to get disability?

    The Social Security Disability process in California

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    California Social Security Disability decisions

    Steps to Win Social Security Disability benefits in California

    Questions about disability in California

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    California Social Security Back Pay

    Can Disability benefits be garnished in California?

    Disability two year medicare waiting period in California

    California review of Social Security Disability claim

    California Social Security Disability status

    VA disability and California Social Security Disability

    Can a Congressman in California help on a disability case

    How do examiners make disability decisions in California?

    Applying for disability benefits in California

    How long does disability take in California?

    How long does it take to get a decision on a disability case in California?

    Why do disability claims take so long in California?

    How Long Will It Take To Get My Disability Decision If I Appeal in California?

    Disability claims in California with certain conditions

    Applying For Disability On the Basis of Back Pain in California

    Filing for Disability with Fibromyalgia in California

    Social Security Disability For Mental Illness in California

    Winning California disability

    Will a lawyer improve the chance to win disability in California?

    Getting approved for disability in California

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    California Disability Lawyers and Representation

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    If your disability reconsideration is denied in California

    Filing a reconsideration appeal in California

    Why was I denied disability in California?

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    Qualifying for disability in California

    Qualify for SSD in California

    Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in California?

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    Cost of a California disability attorney

    Why do disability lawyers in California sometimes not take cases?

    Hiring a Disability Lawyer in California

    Social Security Disability Attorney Fees In California

    How do Disability Lawyers in California get paid their fees?

    Should you get a disability lawyer before you get denied in California?

    Lawyer for a disability hearing in California

    Why was I denied disability in California?