Social Security Disability RC

How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
Social Security Disability list of impairments
How to Qualify for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyers FAQ, Disability Back Pay

Why does it take so long to get a decision on a disability case in Pennsylvania?

A disability claim that is filed with the social security administration on the basis of being disabled can take quite a while to process at the first stage. The first stage, of course, is the application stage. How long does this stage take? There are no deadlines and cases can take weeks or months. Most often, a decision on an application will be handed down in three or four months. But...sometimes it can take up to a year (though this is rare).

Believe it or not, though, every individual who is connected to your case wants to get it processed as quickly as possible and this includes the claims rep at the social security office who took your disability application, the disability examiner who reviews your medical records, the examiner's supervisor, and, to a smaller extent, even the claims rep's supervisor at the social security office.

So, why then does it take so long to get a decision in Pennsylvania on a Social Security Disability or ssi case? Here's why: a disability examiner cannot render a determination on a disability case (an approval or denial) without first receiving a claimant's medical records. And waiting to receive a claimant's medical records can take a fair amount of time. And, depending on the hospital or other medical provider in question, may take an inordinate amount of time. Of course, there are other issues that may influence how long it takes to receive a notice of decision, such as quality review on a case.


1. How long does it take to get a disability decision?
2. How does social security make a disability determination?
3. Appealing A Social Security Disability Determination
4. Who makes the Determination on a Social Security Disability Claim?

Another factor that may require a case to "pend" longer may be recent medical procedures that a claimant has had. For example, if a disability claimant files on the basis of impaired vision, but has had recent eye surgery, the case may be required to be held for 3 months (to assess the outcome of the surgery and the residual effects) before a decision can be made (this also applies to heart attacks and strokes).

Generally speaking, though, the long wait for a disability decision is generally attributable to how long it takes a disability examiner to get a claimant's medical records.

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For the sake of clarity, 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 homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.