According to Social Security Administration (SSA), the average wait for your hearing for SSDI benefits after applying is typically between nine months to 26 months, depending on the area you live in. Unfortunately, there is no way to control the process. It varies on what state you are in and what disability office is handling your claim. Some states tend to run faster, and the same is true for individual disability offices within states.
To speed your application up as much as possible given your particular state and office, you should make sure it is thorough, well-organized, and includes every piece of evidence and supporting documentation you need to back up the statements in your application.
The Application and Appeal Process
The Disability Examiner
If your application for Social Security disability is strong enough, you might not need to go in front of a judge. That is because your application might get approved on the first try by the person who reviews it, known as a disability examiner.
This person never sees you in person and has only the information in your file to use to decide on your claim. For this reason, most applications are denied at the disability examiner level. The approval rate varies from year to year but rarely climbs higher than one-third.
Moreover, you could face a long wait to hear back from the disability examiner on your initial application. Nationwide, the average waiting time is roughly 100 days, but it does vary from state to state and from office to office.
The Request for Reconsideration
If you are among the two-thirds of applicants who get denied at the disability examiner level, there is still another step you have to take before you can request a hearing in front of a judge.
Within 65 days of receiving your denial letter, you must file — and your local Social Security office must receive — a request for reconsideration. This request sends your application back into the queue for a second look by a disability examiner, but not the same one who denied your initial application.
Waiting for Your Appeal to Be Reviewed
Once again, you have to wait for your appeal to be reviewed by a disability examiner, and once again, the vast majority are not approved. At the reconsideration stage, the approval rate is even lower than at the initial application stage.
Your best chance of getting approved at this stage is to submit a highly compelling piece of evidence that was for whatever reason missing from your list of exhibits. Your exhibit file contains all of the documentation related to your Social Security disability application. An attorney may be able to help you comb through your records to see if such a document exists.
The good news is the wait to have your reconsideration request reviewed is typically shorter than it was for your initial application. Once again, there are no guarantees, and wait times can vary based on location and depending on how many appeals are in the queue.
The Hearing Level
Once you receive a denial letter in response to your reconsideration request, you have another 65 days to get a request for a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing to your local Social Security office. Obviously, the faster you get this done, the sooner your hearing can be scheduled.
The wait for an ALJ hearing is usually the longest of the entire process — longer than you waited for your initial review or the review of your reconsideration request.
The Bottom Line: Expect a Long Wait
If you are calculating the time it takes to get in front of an ALJ for a hearing from the day you submit your initial application, you could be looking at anywhere from a year to two years or longer depending on where you live.
Although many of the factors that determine your wait time are beyond your control, you can make the process go as fast as possible by putting together a robust and well-organized application. If you are waiting for your hearing for SSDI benefits after applying, your attorney may help you put together important documentation for your hearing.
Call the Disability Advantage Group, at 865-566-0800
A Social Security disability lawyer from the Disability Advantage Group, can help you with this process. Our disability lawyers are here to fight for you. We want to help you get approved for the benefits you deserve and in the shortest time possible.
For a free consultation with a team member, call us today at 865-566-0800.