One of the first questions most people have after deciding to apply for Social Security Disability is, “How long will it take?” Unfortunately, this is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. The exact timing of the decision on your Social Security Disability application can vary depending on a number of factors. The fact that the federal disability program does not have specific deadlines for its decisions does not help matters. Some cases for Social Security Disability have been won in a month while others have taken two years to complete. Depending on if your application is denied – most are – and whether you have to ultimately appeal to an administrative law judge can make the process take even longer.
Timing of the Application Process
First SSD Application
When you first apply for Social Security Disability, you are submitting your application to the Disability Determination Service (DDS). The DDS will review your application and will usually make a decision within about three to four months. Even this first part can take longer, though. To add to the stress, you can expect the DDS to probably deny your application, as the majority of initial applications are denied. So you may wait four months only to have the DDS deny your request.
First SSD Appeal
If you are like most people, you will be denied initially and, therefore, will need to appeal. The initial appeals process can also take three to four months, maybe longer. While appeals are not always denied, they can be. You may wait three to four months to again be denied.
If your case goes to the hearing level
If your case goes to the hearing level, where you must go in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), the wait can become much longer. According to the Social Security website, the average wait for a hearing in Albany, New York, is 14 months. This number is just an average, though, so it may take less or more time to see the ALJ.
You may not be successful in your hearing with the ALJ. You can bring your case to the Appeals Council in hopes that it will review your case. The Appeals Council chooses which cases it reviews so there is the possibility that it will refuse to review your case. If it does review your case, you may wind up waiting another year before you get a decision. The time it takes will depend on how complicated your case is and the workload of the Appeals Council.
Your last option, if the Appeals Council decides not to look at your case or if it decides against your case, is to go to a federal district court for an appeal. The federal district court can take around eight months to consider an appeal, sometimes longer.
Preparing Yourself For The Wait
Many people that apply for Social Security Disability find themselves in a tough position. They are applying for benefits because they need the money, but it can take a considerable amount of time to get a final decision What to do between the initial application and the final decision is something each individual has to carefully consider.
If you are going to apply for Social Security Disability, it is best to prepare yourself for the wait the best you can. Minimizing your expenses is important, as is seeking any additional help you can from other sources, such as food benefits. When you realize that it may take years to get the money you need, you can see the importance of planning out your finances.
Contact My Albany Social Security Disability Law Firm
If you are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability, or if you have been denied your initial application, please contact me now. I have helped numerous clients through the complex application and appeals process, and I know what it takes to streamline your application as much as possible. Contact me now for a free consultation. Let me help you get the benefits you deserve.