When you are disabled due to a medical condition and unable to work due to that disability, you are likely to face a multitude of financial difficulties and a lot of mental stress. In such a situation, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can help ease some of the mental stress and reduce your financial burden.
However, the SSD benefits process is complicated and difficult to understand which could further aggravate your mental and financial agony. Therefore, when you apply for the disability benefits you need and deserve, you must have a fair idea about how long the Social Security Disability (SSD) will take before approving you for disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not specify the length of time that each stage of the disability application process may take and the factors that could lead to a delay in approval of the disability benefits. However, it generally takes around three to five months for the SSA to decide your application and approve you for benefits if you meet the qualifications set by it.
Consulting experienced disability advocates at Sackett Law could help you expedite the approval process and avoid mistakes that could lead to delay in getting approved for benefits.
Social Security Disability benefits explained
The Social Security Administration runs two federal SSD programs called the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for SSDI, you must fulfill two conditions-
- You have paid enough Social Security taxes at a job or through self-employment.
- You suffer from a disability which renders you unable to work at your job or at some other job, and the disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
On the other hand, the Supplementary Security Income is a needs-based program and applies to people who have little to no income and financial resources available to pay the cost of food, shelter, and other necessities.
Social Security Disability benefits process
When you apply for SSD benefits, your application will be received by a Social Security field office that will review it verify your non-medical eligibility, such as income criteria and financial resources, and employment history.
If you meet the non-medical eligibility criteria, your application goes to the State-funded Disability Determination Service (DDS) office. The DDS is tasked to determine whether you meet the medical eligibility criteria for the relevant program, i.e., the SSDI or the SSI. The DDS will examine your medical records to determine whether you meet the medical eligibility criteria to win disability benefits. It can also hold a consultative examination to be performed by your treating physician or by an independent healthcare professional. Based on its findings, the SSA will decide if your application should be approved. This process is called initial disability determination.
Your initial disability determination should be concluded within three to five months. However, there are certain factors that may lead to delays-
- Time taken by healthcare professionals to reply to requests by DDS for holding consultative examinations.
- Not attending the consultative examinations held by the DDS as per schedule.
- Failing to make timely responses to the DDS regarding information sought by the State-funded federal agency.
Time is taken at the appeals stage
Several applications get denied at the initial disability determination stage. However, you will always have the option of pursuing an appeal to challenge the denial. The time it takes approval of disability benefits at the appeals stage depends on the stage of appeal-
- Reconsideration request: When denied benefits at the initial disability determination stage, your reconsideration request will be assigned to a DDS examiner not involved with your application. As per the SSA, it takes an average of 147 days to decide a reconsideration request.
- Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing: If the reconsideration request too is denied, you can file an appeal for a hearing before an ALJ. Your claim will be assigned to a hearing center. It will take 5 to 15 months only for your appeal to come up for hearing.
- Hearing before Appeals Council: If the ALJ too denies benefits, approaching the Appeals Council is the next step. It takes about a year at this stage. However, if benefits are denied at this stage also, a lawsuit can be filed which can take a long time to be decided.
Contact Sackett Law today
At Sackett Law, we have a team of experienced SSD Lawyer and advocates who understand the minute details of the disability benefits process. We want to help you win the benefits you need and deserve. With our skill, knowledge, and expertise, we can help you avoid unnecessary delays in getting approved for benefits. If you have decided to apply for benefits, contact us today for a free case review and consultation.