Social Security Disability Approval Process
How long does it really take to get a Social Security Disability Income? The application process for Social Security Disability involves five stages and the waiting time varies for each stage. The length of the social security disability approval process is different per person depending on how severe their condition is and also where they live. Individuals with severe disabilities could qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Initiative that expedites the social security disability approval process. There is also a possibility for the disability claim to be rejected.
Social Security Disability Approval Process
- Initial Claim Application
The first step to take in the application process for Social Security Disability is to file an initial claim with the Social Security Administration. It is necessary to include a complete and very detailed medical history in your initial claim application. It should include information such as the name of the doctors, clinics, and hospitals that you have consulted regarding your disability alongside their respective addresses and telephone numbers. It is also important to give a record of your job history for the past 15 years.
The application is filed with your home state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS). From the DDS, it will be transferred to a specific disability examiner who will assess the disability claim. He/she may request for medical records to all the attending doctors, clinics, and hospitals listed on the disability application. Obtaining the medical records could take several months. The disability examiner will evaluate the medical records and will determine whether or not your disability will stop you from going back to your old line of job or from being employed elsewhere. If he/she decides that you are unfit to work because of your disability, your disability claim will be sent to the SSA who in turn will decide the amount that you are entitled to as a disability benefit before they even start paying. This social security disability approval process could take three to six months. Only 33% of initial applications are actually approved.
Making an Appeal or Filing for Reconsideration
If your disability claim is rejected, you can submit your disability claim application for reconsideration which could take another three to four months. In this stage, it is recommended to contact a Social Security Disability lawyer to make sure that you are following the appropriate steps and you are not missing any deadlines for a stronger chance to have your claim approved at the appeal level. Appeals should be filed within 60 days from the initial rejection. Otherwise, you need to start from the first step. In this social security disability approval process, you need to complete an Appeal Report where you need to state if your condition has changed from the moment you submitted your initial application. The reconsideration process is handled by another examiner from your home state’s DDS who evaluates your medical records and other relevant files.
Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
If your disability claim still gets rejected at the appeal level, you can file a request for hearing. An administrative law judge will hear your case and will give an opinion regarding it. In this stage, your disability claim is now under the responsibility of the Office of Disability Adjudication Review (ODAR). The time frame for this stage varies per state which could take seven months up to two years.
If your disability claim gets rejected once again by the administrative law judge, you can file an appeal to an Appeals Council who will then review your case. You need to fill out a form that asks why you feel that the court’s decision was wrong. You are given 60 days to appeal the decision of the judge.
If the Appeals Council denies your appeal request, you can take the case to the federal district court. You definitely need to work with a Social Security Disability Lawyer to help appeal your case. It can take up to eight months for the federal court to come up with a decision. Once your application is approved, you will receive your first Social Security payment for the sixth full month after your disability started. The amount is based on your lifetime average earnings that are covered by Social Security.