Learn about reasonable expectations for the timeline for receiving SSDI and SSI benefits and the factors that affect receiving benefits from the SSA.
Many claimants want to know what the timeline is like for being approved for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Because every application will have it own unique set of medical facts, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. It is important for claimants to understand that the timeline for a claim can depend on several factors and can vary significantly from case to case.
The timeline for most decisions
Once a claimant applies for SSDI or SSI benefits, a disability decision is usually rendered in 90 to 120 days. However, this is a goal set by the Social Security Administration (SSA) so some claims may receive a disability decision sooner, while other cases may take six months or more.
How long a claim takes to receive an initial decision is also largely dependent on how long it takes for the SSA to gather and receive the applicant’s medical records. If it is difficult for the SSA to obtain a claimant’s medical records and evaluate the evidence relating to the claimant’s medical condition, a claim may drag on or the SSA may believe that it is necessary to schedule a Social Security medical exam. Claimants can avoid such delays by providing detailed information when they first file for Social Security disability benefits.
Circumstances that allow for faster decisions
There are also circumstances that may lead to faster SSDI and SSI decisions in certain cases. For example, some claimants will have severe enough physical or mental conditions to allow for faster decisions.
If a claimant has one of the condition below his his or her claim will likely be awarded benefits in a short period of time.
(1) Fits the criteria of a quick disability decision
(2) Is listed on the SSA’s compassionate allowance list
(3) Is terminal; or
(4) Satisfies the criteria of the SSA’s impairment list
Decisions like these will almost always be made at the initial claim level of the disability application.
Denials lengthen the process
In the majority of SSDI and SSI cases a claim will be denied at the initial application level. While this first denial does not end the application process, the timeline for a claimant who appeals this decision will be extended. Because proceeding with an appeal involves many steps, it is difficult to predict how long it will take for a claimant to ultimately receive benefits.
Claimants must first request a reconsideration appeal, which can take up to 60 days. If the reconsideration appeal is denied, claimants must then request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The decision process is generally slow at this level and it may take up to a year for a judge to rule on a claimant’s application.
Worth the wait
The application process for Social Security disability benefits can be, and often is, a lengthy process. However, those who appeal early denials typically have a very good chance of ultimately qualifying for disability benefits.
Attorney Neil H. Good has over 25 years of experience with SSDI and SSI cases. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation online or call #866-352-5238. Remember, there are no fees unless we win.