The question how long does it take to get social security disability or SSI benefits is difficult to answer for a number of reasons. Social Security Disability and SSI cases can be decided within a month or take years before benefits are granted. Therefore, trying to predict exactly how long the process takes is ambiguous at best. For example, the Department of Social Services has deadlines for claimants when making an appeal. This is not so with SSD. However, the “average” waiting period for a first disability claim is approximately three to four months. A reassessment, the first stage of an appeal, takes just about as long even though a case may be determined sooner rather than later.
Appealing to an administrative law judge normally takes a longer time because the hearing must be arranged. This normally takes half a year or longer, and in some regions of the country it can take as long as 18 months. Nevertheless, in the end it depends on the amount of cases pending at the hearing office, which differs depending on the region.
In fact, in some sections of the U.S., initial Social Security applications and appeals are taking longer. This may be due to a significant increase in disability claims, which may be a boomerang effect from the change in the economy and the fact that the population is aging. There’s no doubt that it can be tough for a person not knowing when they will receive an answer, especially if they are unemployed and facing financial difficulties while waiting for their disability case to be determined.
Two types of claims are accepted for expedited processing:
- Compassionate Allowance: If a person is experiencing one of a short list of illnesses, diseases, or injuries, and no recovery is anticipated, because of the condition itself or because the condition is in the advanced stages, exclusive evidence policies apply. These particular conditions are inline with the disability prerequisites under the Listing of Impairments; therefore, these claims are expedited and demand little verifying data for acceptance. Some of the conditions included under the Compassionate Allowance include paralyzing spinal cord injuries and untreatable cancers.
- The second type of claim that qualifies for expedited processing is when the applicant is possibly disabled and evidence to support their claim is immediately available. These claims are quickly advanced for a Quick Disability Decision, which can take less than 30 days.
On the other hand, if a person has an extremely severe disability with a straightforward diagnosis, they may be able to get their claim fast-tracked through one of Social Security’s other quickened disability benefits programs besides the Compassionate Allowance and Quick Disability program. These programs include:
- Terminal Illness Program or TERI: This program is available for individuals with terminal illnesses or those living in a hospice.
- Presumptive Disability Program: This program is for SSI only, and gives claimants with specific conditions a monthly SSI benefit prior to their disability claim being accepted or rejected.
How long does it take to get Social Security Disability Decision during a Delay?
At times, Social Security postpones making a decision on a claim nearly a year after the disability date. This takes place if the claimant has a severe disability initially, such as a stroke, but medical evidence proves that they may recover before being disabled for twelve months. In this type of situation, the Social Security office will contact the claimant with their decision to delay their claim until nearer the end of twelve months, when newer medical data can be assessed and a more concise decision can be made.
Speeding up a Claim
It is crucial to provide complete and detailed information when making a claim. A Social Security disability claimant should provide all medical treatment sources on their disability application. This includes doctors’ names that provided treatment and the address and dates of treatment. This information will create a fast-track for the claims examiner to follow.
Another way to quicken the Social Security procedure is whenever possible; the claimant should gather their medical records themselves and present them with their application. This may be difficult at times; however, for those who can, submitting a disability application with their medical records will take months off of their waiting time.