How long does a Social Security Disability claim take?

Social Security Disability applicants are always wondering how long the process is going to take. Unfortunately, due to the massive amount of applicants, the process often takes quite a bit of time. Here is a general outline of the process applicants go through when they file for Social Security Disability:

  1. Initial Application: Once an applicant files their initial application for Disability, the Social Security Administration will use the application to obtain medical records and other information to make an initial determination of whether the applicant is disabled. From my experience, applicants usually receive a decision from Social Security in roughly 3 months, but this waiting time can certainly vary depending on the case.

Social Security Disability can be a long process.
  1. Request for Reconsideration: If an applicant is denied Disability on their initial application, they have the option to appeal this decision by making a request for reconsideration. At this stage, Social Security will update the information it has on the applicant and see if a mistake was made in denying the initial application. Again, applicants usually get a decision after about 3 months, but it will vary depending on the case.

  2. Request for Hearing: If an applicant is again denied disability on their Request for Reconsideration, the applicant's next step is to request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. This step is where many people become especially frustrated with the Social Security Disability process. Because Social Security is so backed up with applications, it can take more than a year to receive a hearing date. In fact, as of July 2015, the average wait time for a hearing in Cincinnati is 19 months. After the hearing, most applicants receive a decision for the ALJ within a few months. However, there is no set time limit for the ALJ to make a determination, so it is often longer.

Adding these numbers, you can see if a claim continues to get denied (which is common), a Disability applicant could be waiting more than two years for a hearing decision from the time they initially apply. Of course these numbers are estimates and can be higher or lower depending on the case and office. My best advice for applicants is to get started as soon as possible and to be patient. The Social Security Disability process can be long and frustrating, but the right attorney can ease some of these stresses and help the process move as efficiently as possible.

If you would like to discuss starting the Disability application process or would like to appeal a decision you received from Social Security, call me at 513-721-6111 for a free consultation!

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